Author(s): Yamada KC, Inoue S, Sakamoto Y
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Abstract BACKGROUND: There were over 5,000,000 ambulance dispatches during 2010 in Japan, and the time for transportation has been increasing, it took over 37 minutes from dispatch to the hospitals. A way to reduce transportation time by ambulance is to shorten the time of searching for an appropriate facility/hospital during the prehospital phase. Although the information system of medical institutions and emergency medical service (EMS) was established in 2003 in Saga Prefecture, Japan, it has not been utilized efficiently. The Saga Prefectural Government renewed the previous system in an effort to make it the real-time support system that can efficiently manage emergency demand and acceptance for the first time in Japan in April 2011. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate if the new system promotes efficient emergency transportation for critically ill patients and provides valuable epidemiological data. METHODS: The new system has provided both emergency personnel in the ambulance, or at the scene, and the medical staff in each hospital to be able to share up-to-date information about available hospitals by means of cloud computing. All 55 ambulances in Saga are equipped with tablet computers through third generation/long term evolution networks. When the emergency personnel arrive on the scene and discern the type of patient's illness, they can search for an appropriate facility/hospital with their tablet computer based on the patient's symptoms and available medical specialists. Data were collected prospectively over a three-year period from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2013. RESULTS: The transportation time by ambulance in Saga was shortened for the first time since the statistics were first kept in 1999; the mean time was 34.3 minutes in 2010 (based on administrative statistics) and 33.9 minutes (95\% CI 33.6-34.1) in 2011. The ratio of transportation to the tertiary care facilities in Saga has decreased by 3.12\% from the year before, 32.7\% in 2010 (regional average) and 29.58\% (9085/30,709) in 2011. The system entry completion rate by the emergency personnel was 100.00\% (93,110/93,110) and by the medical staff was 46.11\% (14,159/30,709) to 47.57\% (14,639/30,772) over a three-year period. Finally, the new system reduced the operational costs by 40,000,000 yen (about $400,000 US dollars) a year. CONCLUSIONS: The transportation time by ambulance was shorter following the implementation of the tablet computer in the current support system of EMS in Saga Prefecture, Japan. The cloud computing reduced the cost of the EMS system.
This article was published in JMIR Mhealth Uhealth
and referenced in Journal of Information Technology & Software Engineering