Mercy Hospital is launching a new EMS app. Could this help provide better and faster care?

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Heart and stroke patients could receive care faster

Catholic Health System calls it a game changer — a new technology it says could help save lives in Western New York in situations where seconds count.

Late last month, the health system’s Mercy Hospital rolled out cloud-based technology that works on smartphones and tablets and improves communication between emergency medical services personnel and medical providers in the hospital. hospital.

The secure system, developed by Montana-based telehealth communications company Pulsara, provides first responders with consistent two-way communication with emergency physicians, enabling the transmission of patient data and live video consultations even before patients do not arrive at the hospital.

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Mercy Hospital (copy)

Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo has deployed a new EMS communication system that is expected to provide better and faster care, especially for time-sensitive heart and stroke patients.


Marc Mulville



Without Pulsara, such communication usually involves multiple phone calls, which costs crucial time, especially when dealing with stroke and heart patients.

“I was a paramedic in Western New York EMS for 20 years, and there was always kind of a struggle to streamline communication between the prehospital world and the hospital world,” said system manager Emily James. emergency and health service from Catholic Health. neuroscience department.

Efforts to bring Pulsara’s technology to Catholic Health began before the pandemic, but were put on hold as Western New York’s second-largest health system, like all hospitals, scrambled to care for Covid-19 patients.

But the pandemic only reinforced the need for such technology, and it took about a year to get it up and running at Mercy Hospital.

Let’s say EMS answers a call at a house in Colden, in the southern part of Erie County.

They arrive, assess and determine that the patient has a stroke.

As they prepare to be transported to Mercy Hospital, paramedics jump on Pulsara and communicate directly with a doctor, such as Dr. Edward Cosgrove, medical director of Mercy’s emergency department.

The hospital’s neurology team is also involved, initiating a case and preparing hospital staff to intervene as quickly as possible. And communication continues while the patient is on the way, allowing the neurologist to actually assess and see the patient through the app.

“The value of good communication is really critical to the care of these types of patients, primarily cardiac emergencies and neurological emergencies,” Cosgrove said.

“Before this type of communication tool became available, if I was the on-site doctor and got a call from the field from an EMS agency, and got some of the information I needed, but that I had further questions afterwards, my ability to contact the team on the ground as they arrived was really limited,” he said.

It is also a great help for the responsible nurses, who can plan in advance what will happen when the patient arrives: for example, in which room to put the patient, who should be in this room and what equipment is necessary.

“From a nursing perspective, the charge nurse manages and juggles a lot of balls,” said Lori Dufresne, system director for emergency services and neuroscience at Catholic Health. “And so being able to be given advance notice and alerted that it’s happening, as opposed to just having them roll out the door and say, ‘Hey, we’re here,’ is really helpful for charge nurses.”

Officials got a good look at how Pulsara worked on the second or third day after launch, when two heart attack patients arrived at Mercy Hospital within seven minutes of each other.

James said the two cases were alerted via Pulsara, communicated directly to the interventional cardiologist who was able to immediately pull in his team and, on a platform, discuss things such as which patient was going to the cardiac catheterization lab first .

Prior to Pulsara, James said the communication would have consisted of at least three or four phone calls.

“These two patients received care faster, thanks to faster and more streamlined communication,” she said.

Ryan Sheedy, coordinator of the Erie County Medical Emergency Radio System, or MERS, said Catholic Health is the first health system in Erie County to launch Pulsara.

He noted that many EMS agencies in the area are already using Pulsara, and the county is working with Catholic Health to ensure all EMS providers are using it correctly. (Catholic Health said there was no cost to EMS providers to use it.)

In the coming weeks, Catholic Health plans to roll out Pulsara to its other hospitals, including Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Sisters Hospital, and Mount St. Mary’s Hospital.

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