In EMS, Every Second Can Mean Life or Death

ZOLL streamlines EMS dispatch with robust, secure mobile communication platform.

At a Glance

  • PubNub provides HIPAA-compliant realtime messaging infrastructure for the Respond iOS and Android mobile apps.
  • ZOLL saved substantial resources and minimized time to market choosing PubNub rather than building backend infrastructure in-house.
  • End users (emergency medical services) report increased efficiencies and faster response times.

“PubNub is reliable. It’s efficient. It’s fast. It’s everything we were looking for. In the EMS/911 space, efficiency is key because how quickly the first responders and public safety agencies respond determines life or death. PubNub has all of that.” – Jason Brock, Director of Software Development.


ZOLL is a leader in developing medical devices and software solutions. Respond is their iOS/Android app that provides EMS dispatchers, crews, and clinical staff at receiving facilities seamless realtime communication options including live chat, push-to-talk, and streaming video. With Respond, EMS agencies can streamline their communication, cutting out unnecessary phone calls, and directly connecting paramedic crews in the field to dispatchers and ER/hospitals.

Challenge

ZOLL set out to transform EMS communication, streamlining the entire process from emergency call to ER/hospital, modernizing and improving patient response and care.

“Our agencies are under agreements that they arrive on a scene and complete their job in a certain allotted time. So any way that we can help build in efficiencies and take out steps is what we wanted to do with this application,” said Mike McKevitt, Director of Product Management at ZOLL Medical Corporation.

To build Respond, ZOLL needed a realtime messaging infrastructure that was fast, reliable, and secure. Those three criteria weren’t just nice-to-haves: they were mission critical.

Speed: With any emergency response application, speed is incredibly important, and seconds can be the difference between life and death.

Reliability: Message delivery and accuracy is key, and every message matters. Every chat message needs to be delivered in realtime, even in unreliable network environments, to everyone connected – dispatchers, paramedics, and facilities.

Security: With any healthcare product, how patient data is stored and transferred is incredibly sensitive and as a result, compliance is important. Having a HIPAA-compliant realtime infrastructure was a requirement.

Solution

PubNub provided the speed, reliability and compliance requirements ZOLL needed to build Respond’s in-app chat features for iOS and Android.

“PubNub is reliable. It’s efficient. It’s fast. It’s everything we were looking for. In the EMS/911 space, efficiency is key because how quickly the first responders and public safety agencies respond determines life or death. PubNub has all of that,” said Jason Brock, Director of Software Development at ZOLL Medical Corporation.

With mobile SDKs for Android and iOS, and a reliable, scalable realtime backend, the ZOLL engineering team quickly built a production-ready mobile app with secure, reliable chat messaging. Realtime Messaging provides the low-latency data delivery, ensuring chat messages are sent and received between any number of users in under ¼ second.

In addition to speed and reliability, ZOLL had one other key requirement: HIPAA-compliance. The PubNub Data Stream Network is end-to-end HIPAA-compliant, and meets the strict requirements set forth by the federal regulation of electronic communications in the healthcare space.

“It was challenging to find a service provider that maintained HIPAA-compliance. Additionally, as my engineering team started looking through SDKs and resources, it was pretty seamless for us to do the integration and utilize the PubNub service. It was a combination of the ease of use and the HIPAA-compliance,” said Brock.

Result

In building products, development teams are often faced with countless build vs. buy decisions, which at the end of the day is more of a spectrum than a black-and-white decision. How much should they build themselves, and how much of their technology stack should rely on hosted and 3rd party services?

PubNub’s HIPAA-compliance, combined with hosted-infrastructure and APIs, drastically reduced ZOLL’s time to market, and helped them launch a production-ready, stable application with confidence. Choosing a hosted-service rather than building an in-house solution meant that ZOLL could focus on adding new features to their robust communication app, rather than focusing on backend infrastructure and all the complexities of HIPAA-compliance.

“From a development standpoint, we saved substantial resources choosing PubNub. Our only other option was to build our backend realtime infrastructure in-house, and that can get very complicated. SMS, wireless, native mobile, all complexities that we didn’t have to deal with,” said Brock.

The speed and reliability of Respond was not only felt by ZOLL, but the end-users (the agencies) of the product as well.

“Our customers who use our product have made public statements regarding the chat feature that it has improved efficiencies in their organization. From a chat perspective, the customers love it,” said McKevitt.

“[It’s the] first product that ZOLL developed that is designed with Millennials in mind: the way they work, the way they think, the way they act. We took what the ground crew does on a daily basis and implemented it in the product – not forcing the crew to work within ZOLL product parameters, but developing the ZOLL product to how crews work,” said William Rosenberg, Chief Operating Officer at Butler Medical Transport.


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