Queensland Ambulance Service launches digital system for medical emergencies

Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) has rolled out a digital system that aims to give paramedics greater access to a patient’s vital medical information in an emergency.

The SafeMate emergency medical information program is under trial for Medibank customers with chronic illnesses that are living in Queensland. Patients must be enrolled under Medibank’s CareComplete chronic disease management service.

The SafeMate program houses a patient’s medical and personal information that they enter online. QAS personnel can then access this data by scanning a QR code on a patient’s SafeMate card using iPads.

“This is crucial information that a patient wants the paramedic to know in a medical emergency,” Queensland Government Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles said.

“Paramedics will use their operational iPads to tap the patient’s SafeMate card or device, and the medical information will appear on the screen. It eliminates the time it would normally take a paramedic to ask the patient a range of questions in order to obtain their medical history and other pertinent details.”

This gives paramedics access to important information, such as details on allergies and medical history, letting them identify best courses of treatment earlier and improving patient outcomes.

It also aims to reduce paramedic and patient stress, time-consuming hospital visits and costs in the health system, in addition to improving ambulance efficiencies.

Prior to December 1 last year, paramedics were unable to access these records as the organisation was not in the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) regulated health profession registry.  

The digital system is a testament to Queensland’s ongoing digitisation journey, with the launch of a digital hospital program to improve the state’s healthcare and patient outcomes. 

In December last year, through findings from a report tabled by the Queensland Audit Office (QAO), Miles outlined the benefits of the digital hospital program in Queensland.

He said that as a result of the digital hospital program, Queenslanders face improved health service delivery and patient outcomes, including a reduction in unplanned readmission rates, faster access of clinical information by medical staff and more legible patient records.

“Digital hospitals are making Queensland hospitals safer than ever before. Doctors and nurses have told me when I’ve visited hospitals that the digital system helps them do their jobs and helps patients,” Miles said.

Ambulance Victoria has also ramped up its digitisation strategy, with the organisation most recently announcing that it will soon deploy a predictive analytics platform for its paramedics to access real-time information, enhancing and accelerating its decision making as the need for emergency services grows.

This article first appeared on Healthcare IT News Australia.

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