Camera phones help ambulance staff assist patients almost instantaneously

camera phone
(Image credit: Ian Taylor on Unsplash)

Camera phone technology is now helping an ambulance service in the UK to assist their patients virtually. The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is now asking 999 callers to use their's handset's camera to help the clinician assess the patient's illness or injury. 

With the caller's permission, the service sends through a text that includes a link to set up a livestream from the caller's camera phone. The GoodSAM Video consultation platform enables the clinician to see the patient on their screen. 

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As reported by the local Burnham-On-Sea news website, the clinician is then able to provide the most appropriate help and advice for the patient. In fact, in some cases, using this livestream technology means that clinicians can even identify patients that don't need an emergency ambulance.

SWASFT first launched a trial of this technology in May 202 and it has proved successful ever since. Specialist Paramedic Craig Andrews used a livestream sent from a parent's camera phone to assess a baby that had sustained a head injury. "The technology really gave the parents a great deal of reassurance that a clinician had seen their child. Within a matter of minutes, all their worries had gone and they felt reassured and ready to follow self-care advice without requiring an ambulance to attend." 

The Burnham-On-Sea news website reports that this technology has now "been rolled out across all clinicians within the ambulance control rooms". Any patient that has a camera phone can use the service, as they don't need to download an app. Plus, all data is designed to be securely transmitted with end-to-end encryption.

With camera phone technology becoming more and more engrained in our day-to-day lives, it's not surprising to see it being used in this way. It will be interesting to see whether this livestreaming practice becomes more prevalent worldwide.

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Louise Carey

With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine and  Digital Photographer. Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.