Though we tend to equate being predictable with being boring, in the case of optimizing emergency response, it is actually a virtue.
In emergency situations, response time can make the difference between life and death. Data analytics can help emergency medical services operate more efficiently by turning data into recommendations in real-time. Jersey City Medical Center EMS has adopted analytics technology to improve performance as it responds to almost 90,000 calls a year, according to the High Performance EMS blog.
Since it deployed the Mobile Area Routing and Vehicle Location Information System (MARVLIS) in 2008, Jersey City Medical Center EMS says it has better-than-average response times and markedly improved survival rates. MARVLIS combines geographic information system technology, wireless communications, and a global positioning system to produce real-time information that enables emergency response teams to get to their destinations faster.
MARVLIS is one of the products offered by Bradshaw Consulting Services Inc., a privately held company in South Carolina. On its website, Jersey City Medical Center EMS credits the system's "predictive algorithm, intelligent routing and live graphical display of current and required resources" with reducing response times and saving lives.
MARVLIS presents geographic and EMS call data plotted on a map.
MARVLIS presents data on a visual map, rather like a weather map, with color-coded areas that reflect the likelihood of emergency calls. The colors shift as the map is updated in real-time. Paramedic David Pernell told the HPEMS blog that dispatchers will "chase the blob" as they position teams to be ready to move to whichever area the system identifies as the most likely site of an emergency.
WCBS-TV in New York reported last summer on the lifesaving benefits of MARVLIS. After the system was deployed, Jersey City's average EMS response time dropped from the national standard of eight minutes and 59 seconds to less than six minutes. The time savings made a significant difference in survival rates for patients suffering cardiac arrest. Before the system was installed, only one out of five would regain a pulse after paramedic treatment. "Now, it's one in two, which is why the medical center is proud when it looks at resuscitation numbers across the nation."
Results like that certainly justify the $250,000 price tag that Jersey City says is the minimum cost for such a system for a comparable hospital.
Last month, WCBS followed up on the role MARVLIS will play in getting EMS through the snarls resulting from a two-year-long shutdown of the northbound Pulaski Skyway scheduled to begin tomorrow. EMS director Robert Luckritz told WCBS that the system uses historical data to predict where the next emergency is likely to strike, so the team can take a strategic position in advance. "People are creatures of habit," and MARVLIS tends to pinpoint potential calls accurately.
One thing Jersey City has learned, according to the report, is that more emergency calls come from downtown during business hours; night calls tend to center on residential neighborhoods. Ambulances will be positioned based on that probability to reduce the time needed to get through snarled traffic as much as possible.
This is a great example of the power of data analytics to measure human behavior, not to sell more stuff, but to increase efficiency where it matters most.