Paramedics test out Manitoba-made app to improve patient care

A new mobile app aims to bring greater access to medical tools and information for paramedics on the front lines.

Saving lives: there's an app for that

A new mobile app for Manitoba paramedics aims to improve patient care. Left to right: Ric Day (paramedic), Cameron Ritzer (director, Paramedic Association of Manitoba), Luc Bohunicky (Consultica) and Sergii Us (Consultica).

A new made-in-Manitoba app is improving access to protocols and medical information for Manitoba paramedics.

Winnipeg-based software company, Consultica, developed the app at the request of the Paramedic Association of Manitoba.

"We just thought it was time for us to move into the millennium with some innovative technologies," said Eric Glass, administrative director of the Paramedic Association of Manitoba.

The primary benefit of the new app is its functionality, allowing paramedics to swipe and click from protocol to protocol, said Glass.

"There are 50 or 60 patient care maps, protocols that paramedics currently follow, and some of them will make reference to another protocol. The application has been built so that if that's the case ... it will take you automatically to that other protocol." explained Glass.

The number of patient protocols made for the most challenging part of the application's design, according to Luc Bohunicky, the chief brand officer of Consultica. The company had to take binders full of information designed letter-sized paper and optimize it for a smartphone screen.

"We ended up creating a card-based design which allows paramedics to click on or swipe through information and protocols instead of scrolling endlessly through charts," said Bohunciky.

The mobile app puts frequently used medical information and tools such as a dosage calculator in one place.

It also tells paramedics the location and directions for the nearest hospital, something that is especially useful for rural paramedics.

"It may be an ambulance driving from Winnipeg back to Treherne or back to Brandon or back to Swan River that gets sent to an emergent call because they happen to be the closest unit available, and it may be completely out of the area that they're used to driving or working in," said Glass, adding that the majority of the people who will be accessing the app are rural paramedics.

As of this week, the app is available to 1,600 paramedics in Manitoba. While its purpose is to cover the basics of what paramedics need, there is opportunity for future development, said Bohunicky.

"Winnipeg Regional Health Authority knows and has access to information about hospitals that will say what exactly is the ambulance offload time at each hospital ... All of a sudden that's a powerful indicator in terms of where paramedics take patients," said Bohunicky.

Integrating more real time information into the mobile app would require consultation with regional health authorities, but once the application is up and running, "the sky's the limit," said Glass.