Digital strategies, including the use of mobile devices, social media, and crowdsourcing have the potential to impact emergency care and patient outcomes in cardiac arrest, heart attacks, and stroke, according to a statement published by the American Heart Association.
Published in Circulation, the review evaluates the current knowledge of the effectiveness of implementing mobile technology and social strategies into patient care.
While no current research has shown negative results of implanting this technology in cardiac and stroke care, the authors, led by John S. Rumsfeld, MD, PhD, caution that the use of such tools may contribute to the distribution of inaccurate information and compromise patient confidentiality.
“As many of these interventions are new and emerging, it is an optimal time to conduct rigorous evaluations just as are done for traditional medical therapies and interventions,” co-author Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP, director of the Social Media Lab at the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation in Philadelphia, said in a statement.
Cardiac and stroke emergencies are ideal candidates to benefit from these types of technologies, as time to treatment is critical. “Public and clinician education efforts alone are not sufficient to reduce gaps and unnecessary variation in time, which suggests a need for new strategies to address this challenge,” the authors wrote.
While the availability and capabilities of these tools would potentially help to improve timely recognition, treatment, and patient outcomes, the authors note that there is a lack of scientific evidence to support their safety and efficacy. They recommend that these digital tools and strategies should be evaluated similarly to other medical interventions, including formal assessment of evidence and the development of clinical practice guidelines.
The statement highlights several studies that have shown positive results, including a study that evaluated a mobile phone app that alerted nearby volunteers to respond to a cardiac arrest and start CPR. The results showed that 62% of volunteers responded to start CPR, while 48% of bystanders without the app started CPR.
Other studies examined the feasibility of using mobile technology, including sending images and using video calls, to send clinical images, like ECGs and MRIs, to interventionalists for faster assessment of patients suffering a cardiovascular or stroke event.
The authors recommend that future studies should examine:
- mobile devices can be converted into defibrillators
- video-sharing platforms can offer real-time CPR and AED coaching
- EMS personnel can use mobile phones to locate the best treatment facility based on patient status, traffic, hospital readiness, and treatment times
“Fortunately, there is significant and growing interest among stakeholders, ranging from consumer groups to healthcare systems to research funding agencies, in evaluating digital strategies to improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes,” the authors wrote. With that support, “digital strategies could realize their potential as disruptive innovations in health care that directly translate into improved healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.”
Limitations and Disclosures
“Although digital tools have tremendous potential, there is a paucity of scientific evidence for their effectiveness… [and a] potential for unintended consequences, such as incorrect information being provided via mobile apps or social media,” the authors cautioned.
Rumsfeld JS, Brooks SC, Aufderheide TP, et al. Use of Mobile Devices, Social Media, and Crowdsourcing as Digital Strategies to Improve Emergency Cardiovascular Care A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2016; Published online before print June 22, 2016. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000428
This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor