Innovations to aid first responders, and not a second too soon

Three of the 50 start-ups representing in the TEDMED 2013 Hive had innovations developed specifically for, or tailored to, use by emergency responders – a microcosm of a trend.

It’s about time: The system is long overdue for progress, says Jonathon Feit, co-founder and CEO of Beyond Lucid Technologies, based in Concord, Calif. The company produces software for capturing and transmitting ePCR (electronic patient care records) for emergency medical services (EMS) teams.

It’s an uphill battle for a single entity to achieve widespread EMS innovation, first of all. Responders live in a tenuous world between public safety and clinical medicine, Feit explains; emergency response is considered to be a public healthcare safety function and its complicated regulatory system reflects that, even though even at least 75 percent of fire response calls are for medical emergency. Software platform use is fractured, even town by town. Payment issues are similarly foggy; most teams are paid according to tiers of services, and only when they’re on the road. And figuring EMS into an integrated accountable care structure going forward? Headache.

But recent inventions, including Beyond Lucid’s, appear to add enough value to overhaul the system.

To date, unbelievably, many first responders take notes on paper, and when they arrive on the scene must then entering patient info into hospital EHRs, a time-consuming effort that certainly doesn’t aid outcomes. Beyond Lucid’s product, Mediview, helps first responders complete on-the-scene information, including insurance, and send it to patient transport or an ER within 30 seconds.

Feit imagines a world of data about a patient will be available immediately to EMTs, too, though currently hospital data protectionism is stalling the effort, Feit says. (As we reported earlier in this series, Hive company Humetrix also developed a mobile app for managing health records, including data streams from Blue Button; their ICEBlueButton delivers info in emergency situations.)

Feit says Beyond Lucid is on the market in California and Pennsylvania, with a forthcoming paid pilot deployment with a hospital system in New York. Clearly the potential for company growth is huge, as electronic data recording will soon be mandatory for EMTs. Plus, as Feit adds, in the good-news-bad-news category:

“There’s a huge market opportunity given the prevalence of disasters today, ranging from oil explosions to big fires and crazy storms. It’s really dramatically increasing the need for connected emergency services.”

Induced Hypothermia On Demand

It’s a dream for a professor who teaches design innovation: Your students hatch an idea with the potential to go mainstream and save lives.

It happened in Andrew DiMeo’s biomedical engineering class, a joint program from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. The course brings students from a variety of disciplines to explore unmet needs in biomedical engineering, starting with an immersion experience.

“Every one of my undergraduate students all sixty of them go and do an immersion experience see surgeries get on the back of ambulances,” he says.

A few years ago, medicine was realizing the promise of inducing hypothermia to help protect the brain from the ravages of cardiac arrest or stroke. What existed in practice was a hospital-based catheter based cooling system, or a secondary transportable system with an inefficient process.

The students and professors came up with a solution by which they could cool saline on demand. The technology, called HypoCore, works instantly on the saline as it leaves an IV drip.

From left to right: Novocor Founder and CEO Anthony Voiers, Andrew DiMeo, Sr., Founder and VP of Alliances, and Javier de Ana Arbeloa, Founder and VP of Research and Development. Photo: North Carolina State University

“It’s a great example of the process itself, because the user asked for something totally different – ‘Can you make this thing really small and put it on the back of ambulance?  Make it smaller and rechargeable? But this gets to the root of the unmet medical need,” DiMeo says.

He was also careful to build with FDA testing requirements in mind, a critical step for products that seeks to scale up eventually. And this one did: The idea has blossomed into a company, Novocor Medical Systems Inc, based on Raleigh, North Carolina. The company has achieved some $960,000 in Series A financing so far and plans to file with the FDA in about 18 months.

The company has already succeeded in showing students that a great idea, with planning and purpose, can make its way into the real world use.

“I wanted to show the students what they could do. And I tell them, ‘I’m not going to carry the torch the next time an awesome idea happens.  It’s going to be you,’ “ DiMeo says.

— Stacy Lu