Pre-hospital care providers often lack immediate and actionable data when and where they need it most. Accurate medication information is necessary to deliver appropriate care when seconds count, and a lack of readily available data can lead to a poor understanding of a patient’s situation and inaccurate treatment decisions.
The Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services, in partnership with the State, will soon be the first public safety agency in Maryland to provide paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) with real-time access to patient medication histories and the ability to send secure messages to local hospitals.
“We’re very pleased to be the first county in Maryland to equip our EMTs and Paramedic’s with this important tool that helps ready them not only the ability to care for the local population and also address emergencies among the millions of visitors passing through our county every year,” said Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Steve Wilson.
Maryland’s program enables counties to implement Backline for EMS, an award-winning care collaboration healthcare technology platform by DrFirst — a Rockville-based healthcare technology provider.
Paramedics and EMTs can use Backline to scan barcodes on the back of driver’s licenses to confirm patient identities and access medication histories for up to six months. This information is crucial for reducing the risk of adverse medication reactions, especially for patients who are unconscious or unable to recall details of their prescribed medications.
According to a County press release:
Emergency responders can then securely transmit patient information when they are on the way to the hospital, including a photo of the insurance card when available, to help clinicians start treatment sooner. “Knowing a patient’s medication history on the spot can aid Paramedic’s with patient assessment accuracy and critical decision-making where minutes matter,” said Dr. Joseph Ciotola, medical director for the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services. “The instant collaboration via remote updates from EMTs can improve Emergency Department readiness too. When patients are not able to communicate or are hindered by their condition, Backline’s capabilities mean faster, safer treatment.”
Access to medication history is particularly important, according to Scott Wheatley assistant chief of EMS for Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services. “Easily checking medication history and communicating with key providers in real time, all accomplished from a cell phone is critical,” he said. “You don’t need to take time-consuming extra steps to reach data and convey data to make decisions. While we have a free-standing ER in the county that we can utilize, we also must do longer transports to hospitals which requires more paramedicine interventions. Backline for EMS is a technology that will allow us to deliver definitive care quickly and safely in many transport scenarios, and improve documentation and reporting.”
Nonprofit MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society, is an ongoing proponent of EMS access to services and tools that facilitate highly responsive care. “In Queen Anne’s County with its critical highway infrastructure, systems are growing, and medic unit capacity is often taxed by demands,” said MedChi CEO Gene Ransom. “The partnership with DrFirst and implementation of Backline helps physicians support a dedicated and innovative EMS and vice versa. That’s a win for everyone. I think the state funding initiative and this of this project will save lives, and I’d like to see expansion.”