EMS veteran offers more clarity on EKG story

My Dec. 1 story about the Florida EMS installing Bluetooth technology and mobile modems in ambulances to send EKG data to hospitals really has legs.

When it first ran, some readers commented that they were transmitting EKG readings from ambulances in the 1970s. So I wrote an Editor's Corner a week later wondering if the Florida Department of Health was getting something worthwhile from its $155,000 grant to Brevard County Fire-Rescue to equip 93 EMS units with the technology, or if I simply picked up on a non-story.

One new posted comment, several emails and a couple of interesting phone conversations later, I am convinced that Brevard County is doing something new. For one thing, the 1970s systems were single-lead EKGs; Brevard apparently is using 12-lead devices, which, of course, collect far more data than their less-sophisticated predecessors and thus need more bandwidth. The fact that the new hook-ups use Bluetooth to move readings from the EKG machines to the mobile modems also represents an advancement.

What gave me true validation, though, was the call I received from R. Lee Heath. Heath, who has been featured in FierceMobileHealthcare as recently as last month, is a longtime inventor and investor in telemedicine and wireless health technologies. He also was involved in may of the single-lead EKG installations two and three decades ago. Heath assures me that what Brevard is doing is somewhat newsworthy--but not as cutting-edge as what he has planned for the new year. I don't have all the details just yet, but consider this a teaser. Hopefully it will keep you reading FierceMobileHealthcare in the future.

We won't be publishing next week, so this is the final issue of FierceMobileHealthcare for 2009. Thanks for helping make the launch of this new publication such a success this year. Enjoy the holiday season and look for us again on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010. - Neil