Stemi’s hi-tech aid reaches out to heart attack patients

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If you have a heart attack and call the government-run EMRI ambulance, chances are that you will land up in the care of the most experienced cardiologists in the country.

A group of doctors here has put together a unique technology-powered ‘System of Care’ to make sure every heart attack victim in the state gets treated in time.

Using 3G technology, smart phones and tablets with GPS systems, doctors on board Stemi India, a non-profit project, have forged partnerships with big and small, private and government hospitals across Tamil Nadu to treat heart attacks within the window period of two hours — no matter how remote the patient's village or how low his bank balance.

The Madras Medical Mission, Kovai Medical Centre, CMC Vellore and Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital are the four ‘hub hospitals’ that have tied up with smaller nursing homes and clinics to form 'spokes', so that every heart patient gets the best possible care.

“Around 3.5 million people in India suffer heart attacks every year, more than ten times the US statistic, which is 0.33 million.

However, the first aid given to these patients is very poor in India. Our studies show that only 45 per cent of heart attack survivors receive clot-busting drugs and five per cent are treated with angioplasty procedures.

The remaining 50 per cent are not treated at all,” says Dr Ajit Mullasari, director of Cardiology at MMM and member of Stemi.

Another shocking revelation is that 95 per cent of those who suffer heart attacks in the state travel to the hospital by bus, train, auto or private vehicles - only 5 per cent are ferried by ambulances.

“In order to fix these issues, Stemi India launched a pilot project in Kovai, which will now be replicated in Chennai and then in eight other districts.

TN is a great place for this project, which was validated by the Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday, because of the CM's health insurance scheme,” Dr Ajit adds.

The successful pilot was also recently published in the British medical journal.

Here is how it will work

* The 108 EMRI ambulance drivers use GPS to identify the exact location of the patient and also locate the closest hospital.

* Once the patient is picked up, an ECG will be taken in the ambulance and sent via 3G to the phone of a senior doctor at one of the four ‘hub hospitals’.

* Emergency paramedics will be trained to suspect a heart attack, as well as to administer asprin and deliver shock from a defibrillator, if necessary.

* The doctor sends back instructions to the paramedics and to doctors at the closest ‘spoke’ hospital /nursing home, along with a list of drugs to be given.

* The patient reaches the spoke hospital within an hour and clot-busting drugs are given by trained doctors.

This buys him time to reach the hub hospital, where an angioplasty can be performed, if necessary.

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