- Laura Raines
The process for responding to a heart attack is fairly standard. When a patient goes into cardiac arrest, someone calls 911 and an ambulance arrives and transports that person to the hospital. Paramedics call emergency room doctors and nurses from the ambulance to describe the patient’s condition and how he or she has responded.
When the ambulance arrives at the hospital, paramedics provide any additional information to emergency room staff. Emergency room doctors and nurses then pass on that information to the cardiologists who will make a decision about treatment.
During the last eight months, Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville has added an important step. Immediately after delivering the patient to the hospital, paramedics log in to an iPad in the emergency room and fill out a Smartsheet form about the patient. Once that’s completed, the staff and doctors involved in that patient’s care are instantly alerted on their mobile devices.
Now, cardiologists have fast, reliable answers to the questions they want answered about the prehospital condition and care of the patient.
“Typically, the paramedic information is passed on verbally by ER staff to the cardiologists who need it to make a timely decision about treatment,” said Grady, NR-paramedic and regional STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction) coordinator at NGMC. “But with verbal communication, things can be miscommunicated or lost in the fast pace of the ER.”
In the past, a cardiologist would often have a question that could only be answered by the paramedic, who had left the hospital on another call. Someone in the emergency room would have to track him down.
“Clear communication is critical to the patient’s outcome,” Grady said.
“We knew that we needed a better tool to get complete and accurate information to the cardiologists making treatment decisions,” said Jeff Clark, clinical educator at NGMC. “We knew it had to be mobile because doctors, nurses and paramedics are all on the go and juggling different patients. It needed to be cloud-based so that the data could be stored in one place and accessed by people from various locations, and it needed to be secure in order to comply with the hospital’s strict HIPAA standards.”
Clark, RN, RGHC, who has a background in computer software, researched several technology collaboration tools and chose Smartsheet.
“Every company needs a way to organize the different things going on around its business,” said Brent Frei, founder and chairman of Smartsheet. “Often, they use spreadsheets to manage work, but the problem with spreadsheets is that they aren’t automated and can’t be changed easily or combined with other functions. We decided to automate the spreadsheet and found that this tool had broad applicability for many different companies and industries.”
At NGMC, Smartsheet is streamlining processes and helping to save lives. Cardiologists created a Smartsheet Web form to ask the 19 yes-or-no questions they most wanted answered about patients.
“It’s simple and fast for paramedics to do, and tells doctors and staff what they need to do,” Clark said.
Hospital staff can quickly find out if a patient received CPR from a bystander and for how long, whether a defibrillator was used, and what the original heart rhythms looked like.
“This seems like a simple problem, but it was a big hurdle for us. Smartsheet has allowed us to close the communication gap and get everyone on the same page” Clark said. “Cardiologists know where to look for the information they need, and it also provides a permanent record of consistent data for future research. We can go back months later to see what worked and replicate that success for other patients, and we can see trends to address what would improve care.”
The data has shown that 80 percent of NGMC’s heart attack patients don’t get bystander CPR, encouraging the hospital to put more resources toward providing community CPR education. The medical center also plans to utilize Smartsheet in its stroke and trauma programs.
“This tool is helping us to make a difference in patient care as we move toward our goal of having survival rates go up,” Grady said.