My fire department recently upgraded to the “new” LIFENET system by Physio-Control because the “old” LIFENET system used so-called “sunset” Circuit Data Switch technology as opposed to Internet Protocol. In other words, it was only a matter of time before it stopped working.
Setting aside the issue as to whether or not ECG transmission is a “million dollar solutions to a 5 cent problem” I thought it would be interesting to find out exactly how long it takes to transmit an ECG to the emergency department.
Because this can be configured so many ways, it’s important to understand exactly how our system is designed. We use a Lifepak 12 which connects with a In Motion Gateway via Bluetooth. This is not the modem that attaches to the side of the Lifepak 12.
So what did we find out?
1.) It takes exactly 30 seconds for a Lifepak 12 to acquire, analyze, and print a 12-lead ECG.
2.) There are 4 steps to transmitting a 12-lead ECG, not including prepping the patient, applying the electrodes, or interpreting the 12-lead ECG.
A. Pushing the 12-LEAD button.
B. Pushing the TRANSMIT button
C. Selecting DATA
D. Selecting the In Motion Gateway
Actually, this is generous, because using the LP12′s “selector” is a two-part process. You turn the knob to your selection and then you have to press it.
In the testing we found that pushing it (and eliciting a sound) does not always mean the LP12 “recognizes” the selection. You have to watch the screen and watch for the brief “flash” of the selection for reassurance that the LP12 understood your intent.
If you get impatient and press it again, the transmission cancels, which wastes valuable time.
3.) The total elapsed time from pushing the PRINT button to “Transmission Complete” is approximately 2.5 minutes (a full minute of which is the transmission “stuck” at 99% which is the LIFENET verifying that the transmission was successful).
One of the “negatives” of our system design is that the patient has to be in the back of the ambulance to transmit an ECG with the In Motion Gateway.
So if our patient is on the 5th floor of a multi-family residential complex and we call the “STEMI Alert” it will be another 5 minutes (at least) before the patient is in the back of the ambulance, and then another 2 minutes (give or take 30 seconds) before the transmission can be completed.
We have not measured the time interval between “transmission complete” and an email actually showing up at the hospital.
You can watch one of the test videos here.