STREMS: A real-time solution to challenges in pre-hospital medical care
This article originally ran in the Fall 2017 edition of Exemplar.
Emergency medical service (EMS) systems are critical public services that provide a level of out-of-hospital care that can often mean the difference between life and death for a patient. Over time, the role of EMS has evolved from basic life support and patient stabilization to a more robust level of care including drug administration and complex medical procedures.
However, despite this evolution of pre-hospital care, the development of resources that could enhance care quality, patient satisfaction and outcomes has not kept pace.
“Currently, the EMS system is undergoing transformation into a system more integrated with health care as a whole,” said Xiaopei Wu, a postdoctoral fellow working with Professor Weisong Shi. “Unfortunately, the technologies and techniques widely used by most EMS agencies might delay such transformation, as they still depend on the traditional and less-efficient EMS solutions used in the 1990s.”
This need for advancement inspired Wu and a research team in the Wayne State Department of Computer Science to develop STREMS, a smart, real-time, pre-hospital EMS communication system.
The team identified limitations in the EMS structure, including an antiquated radio system and a shortage of advanced life support ambulance units. STREMS leverages integrated wearable sensing as well as video technology to enhance the level of care as well as communication with emergency rooms.
According to Wu, STREMS is designed to support multidimensional data monitoring for an ambulance operating at a basic life support level. A cloud-based data sharing platform enables automated streaming of all gathered information, including vital signs, EKG, and information about an accident scene, to provide a more complete picture about an incoming patient.
“This can significantly decrease the handoff time and improve the efficiency at the hospital,” said Wu.
STREMS also supports video-based EMS telemedicine that can build live video conversations between EMS providers and ER physicians for consultation on early medical examinations and treatment options.
Partnering with the Detroit Fire Department — which has 25 ambulances, including nine equipped for advanced life support — the team implemented STREMS as an Android mobile app and conducted feasibility testing. The system delivered 100 percent of emergency data to the hospital in real time but presented challenges in video transmission in the downtown areas and at speeds of more than 40 miles per hour.
With encouraging results, Wu and her team have an optimistic view toward the development of real-time solutions for more efficient and connected medical care.
Pictured above: Weisong Shi, professor of computer science; Brandon Weidner, paramedic; Dr. Robert Dunne, EMS director at St. John Hospital and Medical Center; Xiaopei Wu, postdoctoral fellow