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Five Essential Apps for Medical Emergencies

Posted on December 6, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

I’ve come to learn that you must always expect the unexpected. It’s easy to see natural disasters happen to people across the world, or hear about tragic accidents, and think, “Well, that would never happen to me!” Believe me, I think that all the time. Unfortunately, emergency situations inevitably happen to everyone. And when those situations come up, it’s better to be safe, than sorry. There’s a lot of apps out there that have been designed to make emergencies a little more bearable, and some are specifically for health-related emergencies. Here’s five apps I think everyone should have on their smart phone — just in case.

1) Alert.MDThis app was created to make sure medical professionals can access information quickly and efficiently during an emergency situation, and to ensure family members are notified as well. Basically, after you register for a free account, you are giving a ID number that you superimpose onto the screen saver or background of your mobile device (the function to do this is in the app.) In an emergency, a medical provider can search the number on Alert.MD and immediately have access to the individual’s emergency contact info, allergies, medications, and known medical conditions. One of the reviews I read said, “I don’t know if I would be here right now if I had not downloaded it!” And others expressed similar sentiments.

Available for free iOS devices; register account for free at Alert.MD

2) First Aid by American Red CrossIt’s not hard to find a first aid app — there’s tons of them. However, not all are created equally, and I think this one created by the American Red Cross is one of the best. It features step-by-step guides for a variety of different first aid scenarios and the ability to call 911 from the app. Not only does it provide information in emergency situations, but it has education for people wanting to learn first aid, in the form of quizzes and videos. The information can be accessed without a wireless internet connection. It is a very clean, user-friendly app, that I think just about anyone could benefit from having. Just as a side note, the American Red Cross also has recently released apps that deal with natural disasters that seem to be pretty handy, all of which can be accessed from the link above.

Available for free on both Android and iOS devices.

3) iTriage Health: The description for this app says it answers two questions — “what medical condition could I have,” and “where should I go for treatment.” It has a doctor search, to help you find a doctor or facility that can best treat your symptoms, as well as find hte nearest ER, urgent care, mental health clinic, and more. Average wait times for local emergency rooms are also available. The database helps users to determine whether or not they need to go to the ER, and what course of action they should take. There are a whole bunch of other features which make this kind of an all-in-one emergency app — I meant, it has almost 5 stars and over 50,000 reviews, it must be doing something right!

Available for free on both Android and iOS devices

4) smart-ICE4FamilyThis is an interesting twist on the typical emergency information card. The owner of the phone can pre-record a message that plays off information for anyone that presses it. It has places to enter medical information, difficulties, and even “expressed wishes.” There is room for up to 8 people in the app, so a parent (or caregiver) can have all the information they need concerning the health of those in their family or that they care for. One interesting feature is the alert function. When it is pressed, emergency services are called, and a siren goes off. This could be helpful if someone is home alone and has either fallen, had a heart attack, or feel they can’t get to a place that EMTs could find them easily. It also has a “my location” button, which makes it easy to give information to a dispatcher, which would be helpful if someone is an an unfamiliar place.

Available for iOS devices for 2.99.

5) !Emergency!: What happens if you are visiting another country, and an emergency happens? Not every country uses 911 like America, and this app helps solve that problem. It’s simple enough, but basically just provides the emergency contact numbers for countries around the world, as well as helps the user locate hospitals and emergency rooms. It automatically detects which country the user is in, and suggests the correct phone number to call. Obviously, not everyone is going to get a use out of this, but for those that travel, it’s almost a necessity.

Available for iOS devices for .99

Key Radiology Takeaways from RSNA

Posted on I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.


This is a guest post by Janakan Rajendran, CIO, GNAX Health.

RSNA began their integration journey in 1998 with the initial launch of Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), a multi-vendor technology project designed to connect radiologists with other clinical departments.  The project has grown by leaps and bounds. Now partnered with HIMSS, IHE is a well-respected, annually-demonstrated, healthcare connect-a-thon. At this year’s RSNA, the association took connecting one step further.

RSNA 2012 was all about connecting with the patient. From the opening keynote to exhibit hall signage and educational sessions, radiologists were encouraged to charge forward into a new frontier—patient relationships. This new drive towards end user connectivity was reflected in three key trends:

  • Radiologists are Members of Core Care Team
  • Vendor Neutrality is Essential
  • Images are Embedded into Health Information Exchange

Shared Ownership of Patients – Dosage Tracking

For professionals typically sequestered in dark rooms and technology silos, the concept of patient interaction is novel, timely and suddenly important.  RSNA 2012 even included a day-long workshop on the art of difficult conversations. Focused on front-line conversations with patients, peers and payers, the workshop set a new bar for radiologists’ ability to effectively communicate outside of the reading room.

The conference theme, “Patients First”, was reiterated by Dr. George Bissett, 2012 RSNA President, in his president’s address.

“After a year of reflection on our profession, I believe more than ever that our future depends on our capacity to develop a new kind of shared ownership, along with our primary care and specialty colleagues, of our patients’ needs and expectations.”

Just as the IHE integrated radiology technically, we expect medical imaging to take a stronger position within the core patient care team. One component of “patients first” is the regulatory need for providers to track radiology dosage over patient lifetime—certainly a huge technology challenge and patient safety concern for all.

Vendor Neutral Archives Go Second Generation

Vendor-neutral archives (VNAs) were showcased notably during the 2011 RSNA. This years’ RSNA uncovered the real, extensible benefits of VNAs. Now VNAs are considered a platform that enable providers to do much more than simply avoid future PACS and storage migrations. Cloud-based hosted VNAallows for:

  • Long-term archival of images from all departmental PACS without any additional hardware or software purchase.
  • Image storage is no longer on-site at the provider location, reducing the VNA’s physical footprint within the IT department and staff time to maintain and update the system.
  • Multiple PACS can be easily integrated into the VNA. Savings are substantial for organizations planning ahead for mergers, acquisitions or participation in an ACO or HIE.
  • The cost to migrate images from one PACS to another is eliminated through a VNA. Once moved into the VNA, images are not held hostage by the PACS. Organizations achieve greater flexibility for future PACS purchases and negotiate from a stronger position.
  • Image enabling of the EMR with a Universal Viewer through one, single integration.

Several second generation VNAs were demonstrated at RSNA. These VNAs focus on image exchange within health systems.  Next up: third generation VNAs to support image sharing between health systems. Initial strides toward third generation VNA are already underway.

Images Part of HIE

For decades, the only way to share medical images between radiologists and physicians was manual. Patient sneaker-net (patients hand-carrying CDs from radiology departments or imaging centers to specialists and primary care physicians) is common practice even today. Vendors at RSNA 2012 aim to take patients out of the equation and eliminate CDs.

Several companies demonstrated the ability to control image access, move images along the HIE or ACO continuum, and consolidate image access reporting. Key technology partnerships to support end-to-end image sharing were introduced. As an example, GNAX Health announced an agreement with ACUO Technologies and Client Outlook to integrate medical images into the Colorado Telehealth Network (CTN).

Hospitals, imaging centers, clinics and other health care providers in Colorado will safely store and share medical images through a private cloud hosted and managed by GNAX Health and using GNAX’s SDEXTM (Secure DICOM Exchange) platform. CTN and GNAX Health are working with the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) and Quality Health Network (QHN)—the two Colorado Health Information Exchanges—to image-enable their physician portals so that images and diagnostic reports will be available through the HIEs. GNAX Health will also allow CTN to offer disaster recovery and business continuity solutions. Nine CHA member hospitals worked with CTN over the past eight months to develop the imaging program with input from hospitals across the state. For Colorado, the future is already here.

RSNA Conversation Changes

RSNA 2012 reflected a new conversation between radiology and their key stakeholders: patients and peers. Technology is supporting this dialogue in ways never thought possible. There seemed to be many more technologists and internal provider system integrators at this show. For once, PACs was not the buzz at RSNA. Information technology was.