AWS Startups Blog

AWS Empowers Beyond Lucid Technologies to “connect the dots” for Fire and EMS Agencies

Guest post by Jonathon Feit, Co-founder and CEO of Beyond Lucid Technologies.

It is often said that emergency responders will “find a way,” yet if you want even the most rugged tool or technology broken, hand it to a Fire or Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professional. Every day, they are on the frontlines of change as they put technology through its paces by trafficking in risk—that is, reducing risk for others by taking it on themselves. While conflagrations grow ever-rarer in the U.S. (however, when they do occur, they can be frighteningly severe), EMS services are an essential function from big cities to rural towns. Indeed, thanks to our aging population, American fire and emergency medical services are reorienting toward non-emergency medical transportation, readmission avoidance, and chronic care—in addition to saving people and property.

Beyond Lucid Technologies co-founders Jonathon Feit and Christian WittGiven this challenge, the infrastructure that powers Fire and EMS professionals’ ability to communicate their frontline view must be powerful, resilient and redundant. As CEO and Co-Founder of Beyond Lucid Technologies, a healthcare IT startup that gives First Responders clinical awareness, logistical support, and quality assurance—and next, will connect vehicles that have been involved in a crash with emergency responders who are on the way to the scene, so that information is known about the people who were impacted—I have seen this first-hand.  After enlisting in the U.S. Army Reserve on September 11, 2001, I was training to be a Field Medic (a disability cut my military career short) and came to understand the sorts of tools and technologies that both military and civilian medics lack when it comes to mission-critical data. My business partner’s father and sister were killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer in rural New Mexico—a tragedy that showcases the essential nature of Fire and EMS on rural roads, as well as the value of information reaching the hospital before the patient does.

The government has been of limited help in this arena. In an “Open Letter to the President,” I wrote about the danger of promoting the digitization of disaster recovery while citywide information technology systems remain underfunded. Federal technology initiatives like Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies, or PULSE, advance the admirable goal of quickly moving critical health data from regions affected by an earthquake to places further inland, ensuring that patients receive optimal care with minimal disruption. But they are only focused on major disaster scenarios—and are often managed by a non-technical bureaucracy. As annual storms become more destructive, it seems one need only await the turn of the seasons to see how EMS can benefit from the robust infrastructure of the Amazon Web Services cloud.

Case in point: In September 2017, Beyond Lucid Technologies’s partner-clients across South Carolina—including Williamsburg County EMS, Orangeburg County EMS, and Palmetto Health and TrustUs Transport in Columbia—were activated ahead of Hurricane Irma. On September 7th at 9:22 a.m. Eastern, we received a message from Wanda Lynch, data manager of Williamsburg County Emergency Medical Services in South Carolina: “We are adding 2 additional [ambulance] units during the storm. Jeff from Lowcountry Billing is on his way here with two tablets for these units. Is there any way we can add MEDIVIEW on the tablets? Please advise. Thank you for thinking of us.” The licenses were being installed by 11:35 a.m. Eastern—just over two hours later.

The need for additional computers in the field was due to the fact that MEDIVIEW™—Beyond Lucid Technologies’s electronic patient care record platform and prehospital health information exchange (think of it like an electronic health record for use in an ambulance or fire vehicle)—is a “cloud-and-client” system specially designed for four use-cases: earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and rural health. These are all situations that stress software due to inconsistent network access. More routinely, the same architecture empowers MEDIVIEW™ not to skip a beat when Fire and EMS professionals visit patients living under bridges, in basements, or in brick buildings, where network connectivity can prove challenging. It is faster and lower-cost to build online-only “apps,” but as anyone who uses Google Maps knows, if the network goes down, so does the ability to use online mapping (without first downloading the directions, if that’s even possible).

One needs an Internet connection to reach Amazon Web Services, but AWS’s speed and flexibility afford Beyond Lucid Technologies nationwide reach coupled with regional failover in seconds and minimal latency—technical “back-end” functionalities that are often invisible to the end-user, but in 2018 have become competitive advantages.

In March 2018, BLT’s closest technical competitor—ESO Solutions, a company that has raised several million dollars in VC and private equity but, according to the Austin Business Times, isn’t yet unprofitable (compared with Beyond Lucid Technologies, which is profitable after raising less than $1MM in funding to date)—transitioned to another cloud service and promptly suffered an extended outage of its Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) interface. ESO said in an email to customers that the “transition did not go as smoothly as we wanted it to,” an understatement given that few components of the Fire and EMS technology ecosystem are as essential as CAD, which tells emergency responders where to go—and why.

By contrast, thanks to AWS, in 2017, BLT experienced zero unplanned network downtime, and in 2016, BLT experienced a total of approximately six hours of unplanned downtime. According to a 2017 release from TriTech Software Systems, one of the largest providers of municipal dispatch and EMS billing services, with whose systems BLT has integrated: “Automated data flow from MEDIVIEW…has been problem-free since the first day it was turned on.”

MEDIVIEW was designed for use in the field, at the patient’s side, so “no-fail” functionality in an intrinsic feature: it collects, stores, and transmits patient data from the field to a care facility, in as little as 30 seconds, in formats that can be readily consumed by a hospitals’ electronic health record (EHR) system.  MEDIVIEW was also the first ePCR to auto-sync between field and cloud without user intervention, ensuring that data are constantly being backed up for security and CQI. Thanks to the resiliency and redundancy of Amazon Web Services, MEDIVIEW was the first Fire and EMS documentation system built to constantly seek a network connection and start streaming data as soon as one is found. We can even “merge” multiple records generated offline, so after Mass Casualty Incidents, disparate records and dispatches can be reconciled, with each responding agency’s patient data intact, auditable, and HIPAA-HITECH-compliant. AWS comprises a core of MEDIVIEW’s industry-leading software, and has propelled the system’s adoption by emergency and non-emergency medical transport services, fire departments, and critical care (ground and air) transport agencies.