Paramedics treat patients with BlackBerrys

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By treating patients in their homes, Cambridge paramedics are saving £300 for every short-term hospital admission they avoid. To make the right decisions, non-emergency ambulance teams in Cambridge have been given BlackBerrys so they can access information fast.

Paramedics are using the mobile messaging devices to access social records, so they can see if a patient has any allergies, find out which medication they are taking or get details of their next-of-kin.

Alan Shields, ICT development manager for Cambridgeshire County Council says “In essence it’s based on saving money. If we can save an A&E patient going to hospital by going to their house, paramedics can call someone round to the patient and safely leave them.”


He explained: “Sometimes it is better for people to stay in their own house. It frees up some resources and saves money in the long term. This is really about having information at hand that allows staff to make decisions they would not otherwise be able to make. They haven’t got time to mess around with something that is complex.”

The council paid Vodafone £30,000 to link the BlackBerrys with the council’s Anite Swift index database, which holds its social care records. To do this, it used a software package called AppSwing, which delivers records on encrypted web pages to the BlackBerry message servers. The implementation took six weeks.

Shields added: “If you think that it’s 100 A&E admissions over three years, you can spread costs further. We thought there would be a good return on investment over three years – and there’s the ability to add on extra services.”

He said: “We wanted a simple way of getting information to our people in the field. BlackBerry and AppSwing is a clean solution which fits our purposes down to the ground.”