How can emergency room associates continue to educate themselves in a fast manner and without bureaucratic hurdles? The A.L.I.N.A Project, which gives associates new tools with special assistance services and learning environments, delivers the solution. We spoke with Prof. Sabine Blaschke at the University Hospital Göttingen about these tools and how they work.
Prof. Blaschke, could you briefly outline the objective of this project and tell us about its current status?
Sabine Blaschke: The goal of the project is the implementation of assistance services for associates, who work in the preclinical emergency field and in hospitals, meaning paramedics and emergency responders. We want to support the work of these associates by introducing intelligent services, for instance, as it pertains to operating devices, medication administration, and first medical response measures. Along with our technology partners, we have written teaching and learning contents and installed them on tablets. These services can be accessed online so that the associates are supported in their work when they need information, for example, in the event of a device failure or in their search for information to perform emergency response measures on patients. We currently provide these services in two hospital prototypes for the staff at the University Hospital Göttingen and the University Hospital Halle as well as the affiliated emergency medical services. We will start the trial phase there and track it until the end of August to determine the acceptance and practicability of these types of assistance services in the field.
Does every staff member get a tablet or are tablets available at a central location?
Blaschke: We have 12 available tablets per hospital, six in the emergency room and six in the responsible emergency medical service area. The tablets are handed to the associates, who can log in to the service center with their own login. We will include about 40 staff members per location in the study.
You just mentioned the possibility of failing medical equipment. Does this also relate to life-threatening events or "just" to general structures and processes?
Blaschke: Our services are not utilized as a medical device. That is to say, they must not be used in direct patient contact. This is expressly stated in the data protection and security concept. A medical device application is also not our objective. Our goal is to support staff members in their daily work. Our focus is to determine whether there is a learning increase if associates have the chance to use tablets given the respective programs. We don’t expect emergency services to directly improve because of this. We would like to achieve an increase in knowledge in staff members, who are able to continue their education while they work thanks to these assistance services.
On the project’s homepage, you also mention personalized learning environments. How does this work?
Blaschke: In addition to the assistance services used in everyday work, we created a learning platform at both University Hospitals, where staff members can log in with the same login data to access in-depth information about contents of interest outside their working hours or during their breaks. One example: if resuscitation was performed during the preclinical steps, the associates can access in-depth information on how to perform this emergency procedure. In doing so, processes can be reinforced.
What were the shortfalls prior to the start of the project? Was there a lack of opportunities for continuing professional development?
Blaschke: Not all hospitals require their emergency room staff to participate in specific further education and advanced training measures for their jobs. What’s more, the emergency medical services training was changed in 2016. The only thing that’s left now is the training to be a paramedic. Given the context of this lack of commitment to continuing education plus the restructuring of professional development, especially as it pertains to the preclinical sector, we saw a need to support these associates. Added to this is the fact that many different staff members work together in emergency medicine. The field requires cross-professional as well as interdisciplinary collaboration. There are also high time and cost pressures. The job stress individual associates are under is considerable, sometimes resulting in even simple mistakes in certain situations. This is why we see a need to continuously train and develop associates in their professional area. This is easier if these types of assistance services are made available.