HEALTH SYSTEM DEPLOYS ALWAYS-CONNECTED TELEMEDICINE TOOLKITS IN AMBULANCES FOR FASTER STROKE CARE
University of Virginia Health System deploys iTREAT (Improving Treatment with Rapid Evaluation of Acute Stroke via Mobile Telemedicine) telemedicine toolkits in ambulances for stroke victims. With constant connectivity being an essential part of this innovative tool, UVA Health System chose Cradlepoint's NetCloud Service for mobile for an improved network connection. The service includes routing, a WiFi access point, GPS and telematics integration, WiFi-as-WAN, and cloud configuration and troubleshooting, all delivered via an in-vehicle LTE router with 24x7 support and a limited lifetime warranty. First responders now have a highly reliable, cost-effective toolkit that can save time, money, and lives.
University of Virginia Health System operates a hospital, level I trauma center, nationally recognized cancer and heart centers, and primary and specialty clinics throughout central Virginia. This award-winning organization’s hospital employs nearly 7,000 people and has roughly 60,000 emergency visits per year.
UVA Health System developed a toolkit with telehealth capabilities that links field emergency professionals to the UVA emergency room while stroke victims are being transported via ambulance. Getting a neurological assessment started en route instead of after arrival at the hospital can save lives and prevent paralysis, speech, vision problems, and permanent disability.
The iTREAT toolkits — they include a tablet, high-speed modem, and portable magnetic mount antenna — are being implemented as a research protocol to test the feasibility of ambulance-based mobile telemedicine. Project leaders hypothesize that it will enhance prehospital diagnosis, emergency triage, treatment times, and patient outcomes. Early results for the study have been promising.
A live video link between the ambulance and specialists in the UVA emergency room is a ground-breaking addition — but it’s only possible with a continuous high-speed connection. Along with reliable uptime, iTREAT project managers knew the toolkit would require:
- Excellent radio strength
- Robust antenna capabilities
- Portability and small form factor
- Quick and easy deployment
- Overall affordability
The health system considered using MiFi hotspots, but it was determined that these devices lacked the radio quality and strength, durability, reliability, and antenna capabilities necessary to meet iTREAT’s needs.
UVA Health System selected Cradlepoint's NetCloud Service for mobile to facilitate reliable LTE cellular broadband connectivity at a price that would enable deployment across rural and urban areas. The service includes extensive cloud functionality and a purpose-built in-vehicle router.
Radio Strength: Cradlepoint’s routers feature an enterprise-grade, multi-carrier, software-defined radio that gives iTREAT the reliability and signal strength necessary for ambulances to stay connected even as they move between towers.
Antennas: Cradlepoint devices are accompanied by screw-on antenna connectors for flexible antenna options — including omnidirectional antennas — which can greatly expand coverage radius. With the ability to extend antennas to outside the vehicle, fleet managers using Cradlepoint's routers can increase this radius even further.
Portability and Compact Size: The compact form factor of Cradlepoint’s routers was an important element of UVA Health System being able to keep the total size of its iTREAT toolkit to 20 inches by 14 inches by 8 inches.
Durability: With metal housing, shock and vibration protection, and a built-in modem, Cradlepoint's routers are ruggedized, which helps keep iTREAT running smoothly at all times.
“We do find that these kits get banged around a tremendous amount,” said Brian Gunnell, Senior System Engineer, UVA Health System’s Center for Telehealth.
Quick and Easy Deployment: This plug-and-play 4G LTE solution makes deployment as easy as possible. After installation, firmware upgrades can be done remotely via cloud management.
“It’s been a straight forward process. A couple passwords here and there and we get it out,” said Gunnell.
Affordability: Using enterprise-grade cellular broadband through the highly affordable COR Series with an integrated modem helped UVA Health System cut the iTREAT toolkit’s original projected cost in half. This cost-efficiency will prove important for deployment in rural areas as the project expands.