These days, innovations seem to come in the form of “apps.” A term that means any software made for any device. People have been using apps for years, but they weren’t called apps. Not until the mobile revolution have we been smattered with app this and app that.
As you may have guessed, the latest innovation we wanted to profile was another app. Not to throw it in with the rest, this app is different and could possibly revolutionize the administration of first response medical care.
CodeHeart is the name and it may be on the tip of your doc’s tongue soon. CodeHeart is a wireless app that allows physicians to see ECG and other EMS instrument read-outs in real-time. The display is transmits live video over secure telephone channels.
“CodeHeart was borne out of a desire to get ECG and other readings to physicians quickly,” says Dr. Satler, director of intervention cardiology, and one of the driving forces behind the app.
Prior to the created of CodeHeart, ECG readouts had to be faxed to specialists and the like. These days a fax isn’t quick enough. “The trouble is that this can take up to 10 minutes to send. Given that camera-equipped mobile phones are everywhere, it made sense to see if such information could be sent live by camera phone: Just hold it up, shoot the chart and then send it in for quicker diagnosis and response,” says Satler.
As simple as it sounds, the team working on CodeHeart ran into a few obstacles. At the inception, technology hadn’t caught up with the idea. Cellular data was expensive and phones were unable to send high resolution video in real-time. Fortunately, it was only a matter of time before phones had the specs and the platform to deliver the desired content.
Security was also an issue. Sending patients records wirelessly has raised concerns, and is not HIPAA compliant. (The HIPAA Act of 1996 lays out privacy standards for protecting patient medical information. Sending it by conventional cellular channels is not allowed.)
Fast-forward, and today you have an app that meets all the speed and privacy standards.
“Currently we are just starting to get CodeHeart into the field,” says Satler. “There’s still some reluctance by some EMS organizations to use it, simply because they are leery of how new it is. But I have no doubt that, in a few short years, CodeHeart apps will be in widespread use across North America, if not the world.”
Compared to other medical equipment, applying CodeHeart is simple, quick and most importantly, cheap. Currently there is no listed price, as the app is not yet in any app stores, but it will most likely go for the price of a coffee. Considering this app turns every phone into a portable telemedicine terminal, that’s a small price to pay.
The possibilities are endless. With CodeHeart, every first responder will be able to link to experts all over the world, in real-time voice and video.