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LifeFlight enhances in-flight patient care with Haiku app

Mar. 14, 2019, 9:27 AM


by Kristin Smart

Vanderbilt LifeFlight is known for transporting critically injured patients to Vanderbilt University Medical Center while providing emergency care with little to no medical information about its patients.

LifeFlight’s Michelle Brazil, RN, EMT, left, and Jill Hazelwood, CCP, work with the Haiku app to view patients’ medical records.
LifeFlight’s Michelle Brazil, RN, EMT, left, and Jill Hazelwood, CCP, work with the Haiku app to view patients’ medical records. (photo by Mike Nelson)

The aircraft carry a lot of equipment, various life-saving medications, and now the latest technology to help assist with in-flight patient care.

A mobile app called Haiku is allowing authorized clinical users of Epic health records access to their hospital’s patient directory, allowing flight nurses and paramedics to see a patient’s medical history — more specifically their recent medical visits, medications, allergies and emergency contacts.

The app has been used in a hospital setting since 2010, but in late 2018 the system expanded.

Shane Stenner, MD, senior director of Clinical Informatics, oversaw the efforts to ensure LifeFlight crew members had access to the app.

“It’s incredibly exciting to see Haiku used in a novel way at VUMC,” Stenner noted. “Haiku was originally designed for physicians to perform some simple patient care tasks, like viewing lab results when they’re on the go. Our LifeFlight and emergency medicine teams helped us see a whole new world of possibilities for using Haiku to deliver great patient care at Vanderbilt,” said Stenner.

“Access to eStar via Haiku when working with patients outside of the normal hospital infrastructure is an exciting new tool that exemplifies LifeFlight’s goal to bring Vanderbilt care to critically ill patients regardless of their location,” said Stephan Russ, MD, associate chief of staff and associate professor of Emergency Medicine.

Quickly accessing more information helps remove uncertainty, said LifeFlight’s Mike Davidson, RN, EMT-P.

“Sometimes we will pick up an elderly trauma patient and they have really low blood pressure and have signs that they may be bleeding internally, and they are unconscious, but their heart rate is normal. That would normally point away from shock. But what kind of medication do a lot of elderly people take? Beta blockers, which keep your heart rate low. So, it can mask those symptoms of shock,” said Davidson.

“What we did before Haiku is draw an assumption and play to the lowest common denominator and err on the side that they’re in shock and give them blood products, which holds some risk. With Haiku, in a matter of seconds you can determine what medication they’re on, so that you know exactly what kind of care to administer. It is nice to have the extra information,” Davidson said.

While Haiku has proven to be a necessary tool when treating all LifeFlight patients, Davidson said the app has really made a difference when providing care to complex patients.

“One of our crews transported a child who had a congenital heart defect, and the outlining facility only knew so much about their surgical history and what was their normal presentation. With Haiku they were able to pull up this child’s chart. They were able to fine-tune and tailor their approach to that child’s care based on the information that they wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. It really helps take some of the unknown out of the equation,” Davidson said.

All LifeFlight crew members have downloaded and currently use the app, which is completely secure and confidential.

All data transmitted to and from the Haiku server is encrypted using SSL.

Davidson feels this is just the beginning of how technology will create opportunities to enhance patient care. He hopes in the future other health systems between Tennessee and neighboring states that use Epic will be able to share all patient medical records, personalizing treatment of any patient who needs to be transferred via LifeFlight.

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