Hospitals

Electronic records system delivers patient data to EMS

When Stow paramedics need critical information about a patient, they’ll soon be able to put a finger on it within seconds. Stow and Akron General Health System are participating in a program called MyChoice that lets customers store their health data and desires for life-sustaining treatments on a secure Internet site. My LifePlan Inc. of […]

When Stow paramedics need critical information about a patient, they’ll soon be able to put a finger on it within seconds.

Stow and Akron General Health System are participating in a program called MyChoice that lets customers store their health data and desires for life-sustaining treatments on a secure Internet site.

My LifePlan Inc. of Ravenna is working with Stow to recruit residents to sign up for MyChoice, which costs $29.95 a year.

Once customers enroll, paramedics and other participating health services can identify people and get their medical information instantly through a fingerprint scan or a membership number.

”This will help us have that critical information,” said Lou Ann Metz, division chief for the Stow Fire Department. ”It’s all about saving lives.”

To get to the information, Stow will use wireless laptops provided through a $110,000 federal grant.

The computers were given to the Stow Fire Department to display building layouts and other information to assist firefighters, Metz said. But because fires make up only about 25 percent of the 3,800 calls the department receives each year, the city decided to find a way to use the computers for ambulance runs, too.

The city discovered My LifePlan’s program and purchased four fingerprint scanners for its laptops for less than $1,000, Metz said.

Paramedics will be required to scan their thumbprints to verify that they are allowed access to patient information.

The program should be particularly helpful for patients who have a stroke, accident, diabetic emergency or other condition that leaves them confused or unable to speak, Metz said.

”These pose problems sometimes in treatment of our patients and determining their wishes,” she said. ” . . . If they don’t want CPR or they don’t want a tube down their throat or they don’t want any invasive procedures, it will be in there.”

My LifePlan founder and Chief Executive Ruth Skocic got the idea to launch the company several years ago while working as a nursing home social services director. In that role, she met patients with dementia who couldn’t express their wishes.

$1 million in seed money

She developed the system and secured the financial backing of several national private equity firms, which helped provide $1 million in seed money.

My LifePlan partners with a New Jersey biometrics identification technology firm called BIO-key to provide an extra layer of security.

My LifePlan participants fill out a packet that details the type of care they would like if they become unable to make medical decisions.

Clients also provide a list of health problems and medications, contacts for family and friends and their preferred hospital, if they have one.

Customers get window clings, magnets, stickers and other items to let EMS know they are members of My LifePlan.

”This is the opportunity where individuals can really start taking health care back into their hands and have a voice when they don’t have one,” Skocic said.

For the past couple of years, My LifePlan worked with fire departments in Ravenna, Aurora and Bainbridge to test the system and make it user-friendly.

EMS crews don’t pay to get patient information, Skocic said.

”They are our heroes,” she said. ”We really want to encourage helping save lives, and this is such a great benefit to the first responders.”

My LifePlan started marketing memberships to Northeast Ohio customers this year.

Hospitals can get permission to use the secure Web-based system free for the first five visits, Skocic said.

After that, they pay $5 per view unless they have a contract with My LifePlan.

Akron General Health System recently became the first hospital to buy into the service.

The health system will use MyChoice to get medical information for patients in its emergency departments in Stow and Bath Township and on the main campus.

ER doctors can provide better care if they immediately know a patient’s medications, allergies, health problems and wishes for life-sustaining intervention, said Dr. Jack Mitstifer, an emergency medicine physician and Akron General’s president of inpatient services. ”I think it’s an exciting new product for people to be able to have a say in their health care,” Mitstifer said.

Cheryl Powell is a health reporter for The Akron Beacon Journal, the daily newspaper in Akron and a syndication partner of MedCity News.

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