Mike Burgwin has cared for a lot of patients during his 12 years as a paramedic, but never virtually – until one evening in January. As a paramedic specialist who works in dispatch, Mike supports paramedics on scene.
“Paramedics had called me to consult about a patient who was refusing to go to the hospital,” recalls Mike. “I was able to be placed on video, and since I could see the patient, I was able to come to a more complete and thorough assessment. This then led to a comfortable team decision and development of care plan which enabled the crew to keep the patient at home.”
Sandra Frank, the paramedic who attended the scene that day, adds: “The most useful part of the GoodSam tool was that I was able to use it on the phone I had with me without having to download a separate app, and do a video call with the paramedic specialist and the patient involved in real time.
We were able to make the decision as a team and I know that the patient felt heard and was grateful to be able to control their own health care.” - Sandra Frank
With that video call, Mike and Sandra became the first paramedics at BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) to use GoodSAM Instant.Help
, an online tool that can facilitate instant on-scene video between a patient or frontline paramedic crew and clinical specialists in dispatch. Teams from BCEHS and the Office of Virtual Health
(OVH) started training paramedics, on GoodSAM in January, becoming the first emergency health-care service to use this tool in Canada.
“We recognized that adding video to the current triaging system can help our teams better assess the most appropriate care for a patient,” explains Tim Makrides, manager of clinical services at BCEHS. “The clinical assessment performed through the GoodSAM tool helps us to better assess patients’ specific health-care needs.”
911 calls that are assessed as non-urgent in the initial triage process in dispatch may be sent to the secondary triage desk, where paramedics and other clinicians will do a further assessment to determine whether an ambulance trip to hospital is required or whether the caller’s needs could be met more quickly through another health-care service.
“This can free up valuable resources to support patients with serious health emergencies while ensuring that the patient has been able to access the right care, the first time.” – Tim Makrides
GoodSAM started in 2013 in the UK as primarily a cardiac arrest app, connecting trained bystanders to nearby cardiac arrests, similar to the function of the Pulsepoint Respond app
. In 2020, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK approached the GoodSAM developers for a virtual solution for the overwhelming number of COVID cases.
Since then, GoodSAM has developed emergency remote video. The benefit: it’s easy to use. The tool does not require the patient or frontline crew to download anything. Instead, with consent, GoodSAM locates and opens any mobile phone camera in under 10 seconds - without the need for any additional steps or installations.
“The ability to ‘see’ a situation as opposed to ‘hearing’ a description can dramatically influence resource deployment,” says Tim. “GoodSAM has the capability to improve patient care, efficiency, and improve resource utilisation.”
Today, more than 180 organizations globally - including the Scottish Ambulance Service and Bedfordshire Police - use GoodSAM to provide assessment and help in pre-hospital settings.
As the number of non-urgent calls to BCEHS increased during the Omicron variant wave in December with people with mild symptoms calling 9-1-1, it was clear that the GoodSAM tool could provide pre-hospital clinical support throughout all B.C. communities.
The project team at OVH worked with the team at GoodSAM to set up the contract, and ensure it met security and privacy requirements. OVH also led and implemented clinical needs gathering, training and support to paramedic specialists at BCEHS. Thanks to collaboration with the BCEHS team, GoodSAM was rolled out in 10 days.
“The way we deliver health care to patients is changing and our team is constantly exploring ways to incorporate evidence-based technology to connect patients to the right care, at the right time,” says Drew Binette, a senior clinical leader with OVH.
“This tool is one of many new introductions BCEHS is making to better support patients experiencing non-urgent medical situations.” - Drew Binette
Currently, nearly 30 paramedic specialists and secondary triage clinicians are trained to use the GoodSAM tool, with more undergoing training over the next few months. The GoodSAM pilot program is expected to run for a year.
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