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Danish treatment of chronic patients demonstrated globally

Press release   •   Apr 26, 2019 05:43 UTC

Paramedics are being trained to perform blood tests and ultrasound-scan lungs with mobile equipment, enabling them to diagnose and treat chronic disease patients in their homes. Photo: Falck

The population is aging and the number of chronic disease patients increasing. That exerts pressure on hospitals and healthcare systems to create holistic solutions benefitting both patients and society at large.

This is not solely a Danish problem, but the solution may be, as the Region of Southern Denmark together with Falck has tested the potential of letting paramedics diagnose and treat patients with the chronic lung disease COPD in their homes instead of taking them to hospital. The first results of the project will be demonstrated to ambulance operators, healthcare professionals and politicians from all over the world at EMS 2019 in Madrid this coming weekend.

- The project shows that certain patients with COPD as their primary disease can safely be diagnostically tested by paramedics, who can subsequently treat the patients in their homes after telemedical consultation with a doctor, explains Professor in Emergency Medicine Søren Mikkelsen, who is responsible for prehospital treatment research in the Region of Southern Denmark.

In connection with the project, ten ambulances from the ambulance operators Ambulance Syd and Responce (part of Falck) have been equipped with supplementary technology, and around 100 paramedics have been trained in performing blood tests and ultrasound-scanning lungs with mobile equipment. Using telemedical solutions, the paramedics consult with emergency doctors who watch a live-streaming of the ultrasound scan. The doctors involved have been impressed by the quality of the ultrasound scans made by paramedics.

- This causes us to take a closer look at how ultrasound scanning in ambulances can contribute to diagnosis and improved decision making at an early stage of treatment, says Søren Mikkelsen.

Ambulances with healthcare professionals
Falck has educated more than 90 % of Danish ambulance rescuers. The education has been continuously improved, and ambulance technicians and paramedics today are highly qualified healthcare personnel.

- The project proves that upgrading the skills of ambulance personnel allows us to find more holistic solutions and creates opportunities to decrease the pressure on hospitals, explains Jakob Riis, CEO at Falck.

- It may sound paradoxical that we at Falck wish to drive fewer patients to hospital. But we are part of the healthcare system, and it is our responsibility to develop prehospital solutions to the benefit of all. It is through innovation and development that we continue to be a relevant partner to our customers in Denmark and the rest of the world, says Jakob Riis.

Falck is one the world’s few international ambulance operators with ambulances in many European countries, the US and South America, and this enables scaling of sustainable projects. At the EMS conference in Madrid, Falck also participates together with the Capital Region of Denmark on a project concerning automation and digitising of the coordination between emergency doctor’s vehicles and ambulances during emergency responses, the so-called rendez-vous.

The EMS conference runs from Friday 26 April to Sunday 28 April.

Facts about the project
The project investigates whether COPD patients to a larger degree can be diagnosed and treated in their homes, thereby avoiding hospitalisation. The project may lead to new work process, resulting in increased patient satisfaction, reduced total healthcare costs and freed ambulance capacity.

- The project is carried out in jointly by Falck and the Region of Southern Denmark

- Ambulance operators involved are Ambulance Syd and Responce

- Technology partners delivering equipment are Philips (ultrasound), Orion and Abbott (blood test)

Falck is a leading international provider of ambulance and healthcare services. For more than a century, Falck has worked with local and national governments to prevent accidents, diseases and emergency situations, to rescue and assist people in emergencies quickly and competently and to rehabilitate people after illness or injury.

Falck operates in 30 countries and has approximately 30,000 employees.