By Yael Grauer
With all the talk of decreasing wait times in urgent care and with all the money tied into improving patient satisfaction — emergency medical care is still wildly inefficient in so many ways.
So inefficient, in fact, that emergency medicine physician Matthew Barrett bought and gave iPods & iPads to staff members for several years so that they could simply communicate as a core group using iMessage.
Barrett, who has 15 years of emergency medicine practice under his belt, became increasingly frustrated with the amount of time he’d have to spend looking for people or asking them to be paged. “EMR was supposed to help solve a lot of these issues but it created more of a workflow interruption than anything else, because you needed to spend more time at your desk,” he says.
Out of this frustration, SynapseBLUE was born by Barrett and co founder/ CEO David Sullivan. The iOS-based software is a task communication system designed to help with workflow management and enable mobile communication.
Instead of literally running around, or using a pager system to try to track someone down, the software brings all the tasks together in an interactive dashboard. Task requests can be sent to individuals or to a group of the correct people, and individuals can ‘claim’ certain tasks. The interface also allows individuals to see the time since the request as well as its status.
And, unlike text messages, you don’t need to spend a lot of time typing in every request. Users select a category for the request (patient requests, patient care, transport, and so forth), select a room number, and send the request to either a predefined group of people or a specific person. They can also claim tasks and indicate when they’ve been completed, and communicate about a specific task. There are even some buttons to select in order to respond with a yes or no (or ‘on my way’, or even ‘thank you’) instead of typing.
SynapseBLUE stands out from other solutions because they allow communications to cross roles, instead of keeping physicians separated from nurses, for example. The system coordinates between ER doctors, nurses, volunteers, and pharmacists, taking away fragmentation in a way that nobody else in the industry is doing.
Barrett estimates that using mobile communication can save close to an hour of staff time in an eight-hour period.
The company’s pilot program was launched on April 15th and has received positive feedback, as well as allowing for tweaks and improvements, some of which will help further differentiate SynapseBLUE from other communication tools, including Vocera, Voalte and Tiger Text.
To that end, SynapseBLUE has been building more technology that’s not part of the original pilot. For example, integrating iBeacon, Apple’s implementation of BLE wireless technology, can add a location awareness component. Some notifications can be sent out when specific people are in certain locations, without requiring them to pull out their phones. This could further improve efficiency. Building a patient portal system for patients to communicate when they need anything from orange juice to pain medication is also in the works.
SynapseBLUE was selected as a Minnesota Cup semifinalist in the Life Sciences division this year, in addition to being one of ten organizations part of LifeScience Alley’s 2013 New Technology Showcase. They are currently pursuing new pilot sites and fundraising.