I was explaining defibrillation to a friend earlier this week. As we were chatting, I found myself also explaining the reason why such devices are vital and why it’s so very important to get automated external defibrillators integrated with Smartphones and to market as soon as possible. The one point I hope I left him with, if nothing else, is that hundreds of thousands of lives can be saved by integrating these technologies.
Sudden Cardiac Arrests are caused when the heart’s natural electrical system that is responsible for pumping blood (i.e., beating the heart) malfunctions. Such a malfunction is referred to as an arrhythmia. The most common types of arrhythmias are ventricular fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that precludes proper functioning, and tachycardia, which refers to a situation when the heart beats too rapidly to allow the proper pumping of blood.
Someone experiencing an SCA needs to be treated with a defibrillator immediately. These devices shock the heart with electricity to restore its normal rhythm. Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) are a special type of defibrillator that can be used by untrained bystanders to correct these life-threatening arrhythmias. AED devices are typically housed in containers the size of a small briefcase and are often mounted on a wall or in a kiosk for use in emergencies, typically in office buildings or large population centers. More and more public access places are now being equipped with AEDs. Examples include airplanes, restaurants, business and government offices, shopping centers, schools and fitness centers.
If an AED is available and used quickly and properly, it can save a person’s life. Some estimates suggest that a 27% increase in the number of people who could be saved if more AEDs were available and used when needed (Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, 2016); a staggering statistic in light of the fact that SCAs will kill more than 325,000 people outside of the hospital this year in the United State alone (Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, 2014).
But, here’s the problem – if there is no AED around, defibrillation can’t happen. And there are a lot places where there are no AEDs or installing an AED simply doesn’t make sense.
Ideally, everyone would carry an AED – certainly that is why they have become common place in so many corporate offices around the world. Certainly anyone at risk of an SCA, or anyone with a close friend or family member at risk, should always have such a device close. However, two major factors preclude such a proliferation of these life saving devices: AEDs are too big and too expensive. It’s not reasonable to expect people to carry what amounts to a small brief case everywhere they go, especially with everything else that individuals typically bring with them.
But, what if the AED could simply connect to a person’s phone – like the case you probably have on your Smartphone right now? So, when you grab your phone and run out the door, you’re also taking an AED – the device you can use to save a life – with you in your pocket. Pretty cool.
But what about the price? Well, what if this new AED used your Smartphone’s hardware and software? Certainly there are specialized parts needed in the AED itself, but a surprising amount of what you need (screen, software, speakers, and more) is already on the phone. AEDs would be considerably less expensive to get to market – so we eliminate that barrier too.
So, that’s the thinking I explained to my friend and that I share with you now. As always, I’d love to hear your comments. Share my blog or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.