Medical Center uses IT to stay in touch with aircraft

By Kyle Hardy
10:11 AM

Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., is implementing a new system to provide voice and tracking for aircraft ambulances.

The Carolinas Healthcare System, which includes 29 hospitals among more than 500 care locations in North and South Carolina, will be deploying Takoma Park, Md.-based EMS Sky Connect's FLEET Satcom system for the Charlotte-based MedCenter Air program, which operates air ambulances that support local, regional and international healthcare providers.

“We wanted a solution with coverage for aircraft traveling within the Carolinas as well as worldwide coverage for fixed-wing aircraft that travel internationally, offering the ability to both track and talk, all in a standardized system,” said Jason Schwebach, administrative director for MedCenter Air.

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The new equipment is expected to simplify operations and accounting by unifying all tracking and voice capabilities through a single company, said Schwebach.

CMC officials said MedCenter Air maintains a fleet of custom-equipped aircraft, including three EC135 helicopters, two King Airs and two Cessna Citations. MedCenter Air’s transport services have been made available to all medical facilities, first responders, insurance companies, managed-care organizations and members of the public.

EMS Sky Connect's communications system includes:

  • Voice telephone services for flight and medical crews;
  • Two-way text messaging;
  • Automated tracking system; and
  • Tracker Map service, providing real-time information about aircraft status, intended routes and estimated arrival times.

“The EMS Sky Connect Tracker Map communication capability is designed to enhance safety, efficiency and patient care, enabling the CMC to fulfill its safety and service commitments to hospitals,” said Wiley Loughran, senior vice president of sales and marketing for EMS Sky Connect.

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Digital Transformation

Top row - left to right: Dr Don Rucker, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), HHS Office of the Secretary, US, Tim Kelsey, SVP - Analytics, HIMSS, Australia and Dr Ahmed Balkhair, Saudi Arabia’s Digital Transformation Advisor, Ministry of Health. 

Bottom row: Dr Anne Snowdon, Director of Clinical Research - Analytics, HIMSS, Canada.

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