8 min read
Managing Ventilators During COVID-19: A Step-by-Step Guide
"Doctor Redmond, we have a problem!”
“We had more COVID-19 patients this morning, which is more than we can handle at this moment. Among those patients, 20 will be in critical condition soon if we cannot provide them with medical support. The problem is that is we have only 15 operational ventilators whereas we need at least 25 right now. We need to find other medical facilities with spare ventilators.”
“Okay! Ask our administrator to reach out to other hospitals. We can take notes of the hospitals that have operational ventilators available. Then we can refer the patients to those hospitals.”
“But Doctor, it will take a lot of time. You know this is a busy moment and those hospitals are busy as well. It will take a while to figure out the numbers. On top of that, the back and forth communication will also kill time. Unfortunately, we only have a few hours in hand if we want to get these patients out of danger...”
The abovementioned scenario is not meant to spread panic or scare you. It resembles the situation that we are likely to face in the coming days as the COVID-19 outbreak intensifies. Despite the combined effort to flatten the curve, the number of cases is increasing everywhere, and many people will need to be transferred into Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Ventilators are integral parts of ICUs since COVID-19 patients suffer from severe respiratory issues. Without ventilators, the lives of these patients will be jeopardized. Unfortunately, medical professionals worldwide are facing a shortage of this critical piece of equipment.
To fight the crisis, more ventilators are being produced but it will take time for that equipment to be distributed and to put in operation.
Therefore, to prevent any dire situations from happening, medical facilities need to come together to optimize the use of whatever resources they have. Nothing is more saddening than if someone dies just because of the shortage of ventilators in a facility while another hospital/clinic nearby has a few ventilators available and operational.
To prevent this type of situation, SimplyCast is offering a solution that can monitor, manage, and report the availability of ventilators in all medical facilities.
Using the Blueprint & Maps software, medical professionals can see the availability of ventilators in all the medical facilities in real-time. This means they do not need to spend time calling or faxing to find out if there are operational ventilators in other hospitals. Instead, they can just log in to their SimplyCast account, make a few clicks, and see which hospitals have that equipment available.
Introducing Blueprints & Map
Blueprints & Maps is an integral tool in the SimplyCast’s emergency communication suite of tools.
Acting like a relational database system, Blueprint entities are used as templates to create records that can appear on SimplyCast’s Maps interface or be used separately. Managers can look at the map and see the information they need to know at a glance. With Blueprints, it is essential to plan out your actions beforehand in order to maximize your success and make sure you are being efficient with the system.
The Blueprint & Map features can be used to target a particular geographical area to send alerts and other communications. The map can be overlaid with information from the common operating picture, such as the location of any personnel in the field or the sites of all health centers and other critical infrastructure. Information about the status of each facility can be added to the map as well and it will continue to update automatically as soon as new information is available.
In general, using this technology, healthcare providers can:
Use the Map to target particular geographic areas to send alerts and other communications to.
Manage all your assets in the field by mapping them to the common operating picture.
React quickly when a blueprint record's status changes with help from visual map cues.
The Solution at a Glance
Through SimplyCast’s Blueprints and Mapping technology, ventilators can be registered, tracked, and managed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Information can be shared across multiple accounts in the network so that all stakeholders are able to see whether a particular unit is not only available but operational.
Each agency registers its ventilator inventory into SimplyCast’s Blueprints solution using a standard blueprint template that was created. Once all ventilators are registered, stakeholders can easily view and manage their status through the system.
Let’s simplify the solution with these three easy steps:
Step #1 Create and Share a Ventilator Registration Template
This process is controlled by a central authority, which can either be a regional government health office or a committee formed by representatives from the participating healthcare providers. To begin, the central authority needs to create a SimplyCast account. Then, in the Blueprint & Maps tool, they need to enter the details of ventilators in healthcare facilities. To collect the data, a blueprint template can be created in the SimplyCast system with all the required information that needs to be provided for each individual ventilator. Here is an example of an online ventilator registration form that needs to be sent to all the participating medical facilities.
Step #2 Feed Ventilator Data into the System
Once the template is created, the central authority will send this Blueprint template to every participating healthcare provider. A representative, for instance, the Emergency Manager from each provider will fill out the template and create a record for each of the ventilators they have. In this case, a Location and a Status field are included in the template so that emergency managers and/or ventilator owners are able to view, update, and manage the location, status, and usage of each unit. Types of ventilators are also an important factor so that filed is also incorporated.
Records can be bulk uploaded to the system via an Excel spreadsheet. Each health agency with access to the blueprint template can upload their own spreadsheet.
Step #3 Check & Verify the Status of Ventilators in the Map
Once all healthcare providers/ventilator owners complete the ventilator registration process by creating a record for all ventilators, the central authority can view all the ventilators and their statuses on the Map. If the status is not correct, they can alter it manually. The color of a ventilator icon will change in the map depending on the status of that ventilator.
For instance, here, we have three types of statuses (available, assigned, malfunctioning). Statuses can be changed via the template. For example, the moment a ventilator is occupied by a patient, the Health Manager responsible for that ventilator will change the status to Assigned from Available. Similarly, if an available ventilator is not working, its status can be altered from Available to Malfunctioning.
Access to the Blueprint & Map system can be shared with all participating healthcare agencies or with specific users within those agencies depending on the need. However, they will have the authority to change statuses only of the ventilators owned by them. Access to the system can be revoked if needed.
That’s it! Now, you have a functioning system that can show you all the ventilators available in a region alongside their current statuses. If a healthcare provider runs out of ventilator systems and direly needs to refer a COVID-19 patient to another hospital/medical facility, they don’t need to waste time by calling and sending faxes. Just a few clicks and they will see which healthcare provider has ventilators ready.
However, there could be one potential glitch in the system: what if after sending a patient to another hospital, that hospital also runs out of ventilators while the patient is in transit? Fortunately, there is also a solution and it’s pretty simple. Before referring a patient to another hospital with available ventilators, a call can be made to book the ventilator for the patient. Once the ventilator is booked, the status can be changed to assigned because it is now occupied by a patient.
Benefits of Using Blueprints & Maps to Manage Ventilators
So far, we discussed how we can solve the shortage of ventilators via the active collaboration of healthcare providers and optimize the use of ventilators by using the Blueprint & Maps technology. Let’s view a few more benefits of using this technology.
Benefit #1 Customize Entity Fields
In Blueprints, you can create templates containing fields and data types specific to the particular entity. By filling out that template, you can easily create a new record. For instance, depending on the needs, more details can be asked about a ventilator to create a record.
Benefit #2 Create Icon Filters
Icons make it easy to navigate resources in the map. Icons also help differentiate between blueprint entities when they appear on the mapping interface. Adding different color filters to a specific icon can display its status. For our case, we can use different icons to indicate a different type of ventilator just like we can use a different color to indicate the status of a ventilator.
Benefit #3 Draw Map Regions
Using mapping technology, you can create a region entity to create zones. For example, if a doctor needs to transfer a critical patient to another hospital with available ventilators, the search area can be narrowed down by drawing a region around the current location of the patient. It is even possible to send notifications to all contacts located in the drawn area.
Benefit #4 Custom Form Reports
Additionally, reports for ventilator statuses can be displayed on a Command Hub dashboard to enhance the common operating picture. Reports can be filtered to show only ventilators that are currently assigned, any that require maintenance, and/or ventilators that are available to be assigned.
Emergency managers can update the status of ventilators from Command Hub, which will correspondingly change the information appearing on the SimplyCast Map.
Benefit #5 Filter Map Layers
In order to prevent having the map jam-packed with icons, the filter button can be used to select the blueprint entity layers you wish to be displayed on the map at one time. For example, if you are looking for available ventilators in a large region, you can set the filter accordingly and only available ventilators will be displayed on the map, preventing the map from being crowded.
Benefit #6 Dropdown Menu Creation
It is possible to create custom dropdown menus containing the choices you need for your various blueprint fields. These dropdown menus are stored in the Blueprints application and can be used during the creation of multiple blueprint entities. Therefore, recording ventilators in the system will be much easier for emergency managers.
Learn More about Blueprints & Maps
SimplyCast created this COVID-19 template within the existing solution with no technological modification or additional development. This solution is 100% customizable and can be adjusted to meet your organization’s specific needs.
If you would like additional information about SimplyCast’s solution and how it can aid in the COVID-19 pandemic, please do not hesitate to contact us. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or simply call 866-323-6572 ext. 1.
Alternatively, you can also request a demo and one of our representatives will be in touch with you to demonstrate the potential of SimplyCast’s Emergency Communication Suite.