Mobile videoconferencing for enhanced emergency medical communication - a shot in the dark or a walk in the park? ‐‐ A simulation study
Background: Videoconferencing on mobile phones may enhance communication, but knowledge on its quality in various situations is needed before it can be used in medical emergencies. Mobile phones automatically activate loudspeaker functionality during videoconferencing, making calls particularly vulnerable to background noise. The aim of this study was to investigate if videoconferencing can be used between lay bystanders and Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) operators for initial emergency calls during medical emergencies, under suboptimal sound and light conditions. Methods: Videoconferencing was tested between 90 volunteers and an emergency medical dispatcher in a standardized scenario of a medical emergency. Three different environments were used for the trials: indoors with moderate background noise, outdoors with daylight and much background noise, and outdoors during nighttime with little background noise. Thirty participants were recruited for each of the three locations. After informed consent, each participant was asked to use a video mobile phone to communicate with an EMD operator. During the video call the EMD operator gave instructions for tasks to be performed by the participant. The video quality from the caller to the EMD was evaluated by the EMD operator and rated on a five step scale ranging from “not able to see” to “good video quality”. Sound quality between participants and EMD operators was assessed by a method developed for this trial. Kruskal – Wallis and Chi-square tests were used for statistical analysis. Results: Video quality was significantly different between the groups (p <0.001), and the nighttime group had lower video quality. For most sessions in the nighttime group it was still possible to see actions done at the simulated emergency site. All participants were able to perform their tasks according to the instructions given by dispatchers, although with a need for more repetitions during sessions with much background noise. No calls were rated by dispatchers as incomprehensible due to low sound quality and only 3% of the calls were considered somewhat difficult or very difficult to understand. Conclusions: Videoconferencing on mobile phones can be used for the initial emergency call during medical emergencies also in suboptimal conditions.
CitationScandinavian journal of trauma, resuscitation and emergency medicine 22(2014) s. 35
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