Disaster medicine | Digital health technology in a disaster

disaster medicine

Disaster medicine: How digital technology can help during terror or disaster?

Mass casualties as a result of natural disasters (for example, tsunami, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, etc.) or human-made/artificial disasters like wars, accidents, etc. call for a major disaster response.

Is it one of the biggest challenges to current health sector-how to evoke a fast and efficient emergency management and health services within a golden hour of recovery period?

The rescue involves direct participation of field medical personnel, on viewers, regional emergency departments and hospital services. The casualties may rise exponentially due to mismanagement, lack of coordination between various services, limited resources, and infrastructure, However new technologies like the internet, fast computers and laptops, advanced “smart devices” instrumental in digitalization of today’s’ world show massive potential to immensely improve medical services during an emergency and disaster medicine.

Technologies used in disaster medicine

Remember release of Sarin in Syria or the 2001 Tsunami disaster in India devastating thousands of lives?

The real-time information and situational analysis about the medical needs, casualties require excellent communication and management across intensive units, ambulances and relief units. This is possible using modern satellite technology in today’s world. However, high-speed internet and geo-positional tracking are reliable sources to allow better connectivity during hazards. Also, with patient monitoring and ambulances equipped with the web, any damage to the body is immediately replied to database calling for immediate action without an intermediary. The miniaturized medical monitoring equipment provides greater patient care and security and fosters accurate and sensitive data on site.

Patient barcode registration or triage tracking along with digitalized record goes a long way in emergency conditions. It saves time, with immediate call to action, and aides precise and prompt medical help. The telemedicine and site visualization mapping have helped physicians and surgeons to quickly access situation before treatment.

By extending triage tracking technology to the concept of the unique identification number and bring all medical data under one big umbrella, there would be quick assessment, and repetition of the same medical history to every doctor (if you want to change your physician) would become redundant.

Through the same argument, one can locate patients in trouble just by an alarm encoded in the system if the vitals of the individual is connected virtually to the hospital or medical center. Centralized internet database is critical to this program, and it is still under process.

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Simulations to help Doctors and surgeons

Virtual reality to train physicians and surgeons for disaster medicine is a novel concept tried out in regions hit by natural disasters like Japan. Simulation is essential for field doctors, who need to know the drill of emergency situations. Tools like Samsung Gear VR mirrors the real world by pulling medical students out of the classroom into the VR. Cadavers and mannequins are old histories. It is an effective way for medical skills development required during disasters, inculcating observational training in surgeons during an emergency, improve decision-making, develop motor skills (essential for quick reactions) and teamwork (any mismanagement only adds to chaos)

The ability to think under pressure is an important tool for emergency doctors, and Virtual Reality Medical Training Simulator does exactly that. The participants are forced into shoes of the paramedic at the site, and quickly need to change gears to adjust to the situation given.

Current market

Around $7.2 billion is invested on digitalization of health sector for a medical emergency.

Companies like LifeSpan, CAE Healthcare, Samsung, IBM Watson, etc. are investing in setting up VR for medical training for physicians and surgeons.

There are various sectors which we need to address:-

  1. Surgery: Gauss Surgical (developed surgical blood monitoring system which runs on IPad), TouchSurgery, CMR
  2. EMR/Practice Management: Modernizing Medicine, AUG Medix, MEDCPU, PokitDok, eso, CareCloud
  3. Referrals: Extremely important (to choose specialists )during emergency-AristaMD, ALdin, Kyruus, Solera, Grand Rounds
  4. Supply Management: Lab Sensor Solutions and Aethon manages the time of expiration/supply for materials required during medical emergency
  5. Care Coordination: Another essential /indispensable group during an emergency which looks after coordination between different medical departments-Health Loop, Caresync, Wellframe, dabazaHealth
  6. Infection Control: Especially important during epidemics-Xenex
  7. Emergency: Oventius, Check ER, jvion, etc. look after emergency situations
  8. Medication management: Medibeacon take care of medicines of patients by remote tracking (necessary during an emergency)
  9. Communication: Companies like Voalte, DrLink, Cureatr, Mpirik, patient safety, etc. are crucial during an emergency where there have to constant communication between doctors and nurses during an emergency.
  10. Hospital Navigation: Gozio, Connexient

Technologies based on Military

Following techniques have been used or piloted by the military during emergency medical services:-

  1. Third generation wireless.
  2. GPS: for patient tracking.
  3. Radio frequency identification: for patient tracking.
  4. Barcode tracking for patient identification.
  5. Electronic PDA record for patient data monitoring.
  6. GPS for ambulance tracking.
  7. Barcoding (used in emergency and hospital linkage)
  8. Electronic dashboard for incident command and management.

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