I grew up watching the Star Trek television series and was always intrigued by the amazing technology that included phasers, warp speed, cloaking devices and the transporter – the fastest (and coolest) way of getting from point A to point B! “Beam me up Scotty” still comes to my mind as the iconic phrase that promises fast and immediate action in the most dire of circumstances.
Today, the San Diego Beacon Community is implementing our own “beaming” technology with dramatic results. We are using health information technology to electronically transmit electrocardiograms (EKGs) from ambulances to hospital emergency departments to ensure faster and better coordinated care for emergency cardiac patients. When a patient demonstrates symptoms of a heart attack, getting the right information quickly to a cardiac specialist is critical.
“Beaming” the EKGs and other relevant health information to the hospital while the patient is still miles away allows for the patient’s condition to be appropriately assessed by specialists before he or she arrives. Then, immediate treatment can be provided as soon as the patient arrives at the hospital. The sooner blood flow is restored to the heart muscle, the better the outcomes for surviving a heart attack.