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Bi-State Region Patient-Tracking System Speeds Emergency Response, Improves Patient Care


St. Louis, MO - 17 Aug 2006: August 17, 2006 -- St. Louis Area Regional Response System has selected IBM (NYSE: IBM) to provide a new real-time patient tracking system that will improve response times in any emergency, from a simple traffic accident to a large-scale disaster.

STARRS is a regional planning organization that helps the bi-state St. Louis area plan and prepare for critical incidents. The region receives federal homeland security funding through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, STARRS’ fiscal agent.

IBM has developed an innovative system to enable regional first responders to relay patient data from the scene of the incident to hospitals, emergency operations personnel and other authorized public officials in real time. Until recently, local hospitals and first responders communicated via a 30-year-old radio system. Tracking and triaging victims had become challenging.

“In any emergency situation where human lives are at stake, seconds count,” said STARRS Deputy Director Nick Gragnani. “Better medical information provided more quickly means better patient care and more lives saved.”

The emergency patient tracking system will enable first responders to record at the scene of the incident, using mobile data terminals, patient information like medical condition, vital signs and chief injury or illness, as well as the name of the hospital the patient is being transported. A barcode bracelet is then produced and attached to the patient that will draw up their information when it is scanned at the hospital -- reducing time consuming paperwork.

The data is then transmitted over a wireless network from the scene and the data is accessible instantly to hospital and public safety personnel so they have a detailed picture of the patients’ condition even before they arrive at the hospital via mobile data terminals, laptops and PCs. The barcode bracelets and real-time information will assist EMS command centers and hospitals to more effectively manage their resources by having the new ability to analyze incident data to identify needs and trends to improve decision making that provides more coordinated patient treatment during large-scale emergencies .The architecture also can be programmed to capture additional information as required.

The system is designed to minimize the amount of time caregivers have to spend entering information so they can focus attention on assisting the patient, while still providing the most complete picture of the incident possible. Additionally, officials will have a complete view of the situation and be able to divert emergency personnel as the situation dictates. They will also be able to provide family members with more complete information when they inquire about their loved one’s status and what hospital they’ve been taken to.

“This is another example of how better access to and use of information can aid better decision making,” said IBM Public Sector Executive Jane Harbron. “We’ve brought our data analysis and technology skills together in a way that makes a real difference to emergency medical service providers and hospitals in the St. Louis metropolitan area.”

This system is in full-scale use for the City of St. Louis, and is implemented for large scale incidents for the counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, St. Clair and Madison. By the end of October, this system will be implemented for large scale incidents in Franklin, Jefferson, and Monroe counties and in all Level II and Level III trauma centers.

The organization needed help from a leading technology solutions provider to develop and deploy a solution that would assist in tracking patients’ information and help medical staff make decisions to maximize the system’s response resources.

Once the solution is completely implemented, STARRS expects area EMS providers to increase productivity during rapid response situations by 10 to 15 percent due to improved response time for decision-making activities. Specifically, the wireless area network allows different governments and community and service organizations to communicate easily during times of crisis. By working with IBM, STARRS received a complete solution -- from hardware and software to services and wireless networking.


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