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IoT Connected AEDs: Importance & Benefits

As wireless connectivity – such as WiFi, Cellular, GPS, and Bluetooth – has greatly advanced over the past decade, a “connectivity” revolution has occurred for hardware devices in most industries.

Think about it: everything is now an IOT (internet of things) device, from doorbells to fitness trackers. Technology is constantly evolving and becoming wirelessly connected to the cloud. So are AEDs! And connected AEDs are a game-changer.

Until recently, the AED industry has unfortunately been slow to embrace the benefits of the “connectivity” revolution. As a result, there have been millions of devices placed in the U.S. that lack wireless connectivity, resulting in several notable problems:

  • AED maintenance is often time-consuming and error-prone, resulting in AEDs that aren’t ready for a rescue
  • Time-consuming maintenance because AEDs lacking connectivity require manual inspections for every AED
  • Missing location information
  • Valuable AED data is frequently not given in a timely manner, or at all, to the physicians that are treating out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients
  • Cumbersome software upgrades for AEDs

But, it’s not all doom and gloom.

A new generation of “connected” AEDs were introduced internationally in approximately 2017 to cover basic status check updates. While these AEDs have not yet fully addressed some of the core problems that exist with AED maintenance and cardiac arrest event data sharing, connectivity still provides clear benefits.

As a prospective AED buyer, let’s explore why you should seriously consider being a part of the “connectivity” revolution in the AED industry by owning a connected AED!

Connected AEDs – What are the Advantages?

Automated AED Maintenance

AED Readiness & Wireless Self-test Data Sharing:

Whether someone owns a single AED or 200 devices across numerous locations, AED maintenance has often proven to be an extremely burdensome process. Without connectivity, maintenance of these devices has historically required manual inspection to ensure that they are ready for an emergency.

Therefore, the burden of AED maintenance and AED Program Management has fallen entirely on device owners to regularly perform long lists of manual tasks such as, but certainly not limited to:

  • Checking the AED status indicator
  • Checking the AED battery and electrode pad expiration dates
  • Checking that the AED is still in its intended location
  • Checking to make sure that the device hasn’t been tampered with or damaged

If you own (or plan to own) multiple AEDs, imagine having to go physically check the readiness status of each device on a regular basis? What if those devices are in multiple locations? Or what if the AEDs don’t have a fixed location because they are in a car or an athletic trainer’s backpack?

As you’ve probably realized, manual AED maintenance can become a headache – and expensive – especially if you own multiple AEDs!

Unfortunately, AEDs are often not properly maintained, and therefore not ready to use in an emergency. Dr. Brad Sutton at the University of Louisville led a study that looked at maintenance practices for AEDs in different regions. Most notably, he found that approximately 20% of AEDs in Louisville and 38% of AEDs in Central Illinois were not properly maintained such that they may not work if used!

“Unfortunately, our data suggest that even when you find an AED in the time of need, it may not work. These devices require routine upkeep in order to remain functional and ready.”

– Dr. Brad Sutton (Assistant Professor of Medicine and Assistant Dean for Health Strategy and Innovation at the University of Louisville)
Clearly, manual maintenance of AEDs isn’t working, not only risking lives but also making device owners vulnerable to liability.

In order to help oversee AED units and document readiness checks, the AED industry has created several email-based software systems to remind AED managers to check their devices on a monthly basis. While these efforts can help, such services typically require extra costs – in many cases over $149/AED unit per year!

Connected AEDs help address the burden and problems associated with manual maintenance.

With wireless connectivity, the AED maintenance process can essentially become automated.

Why is that the case?

Specifically, connected AEDs allow for remote monitoring of your AED fleet since the devices can connect to the “cloud” to proactively share important device status information through AED Program Management software. So, instead of having to physically check every AED to ensure it’s ready to use in an emergency, you can sit at your desk and receive automatic alerts when your device(s) need attention.

Connected AEDs help address the burden and problems associated with manual maintenance.

With wireless connectivity, the AED maintenance process can essentially become automated.

Why is that the case?

Specifically, connected AEDs allow for remote monitoring of your AED fleet since the devices can connect to the “cloud” to proactively share important device status information through AED Program Management software. So, instead of having to physically check every AED to ensure it’s ready to use in an emergency, you can sit at your desk and receive automatic alerts when your device(s) need attention.

AED with pad expiration written
on a sticky note

Unmanageable excel spreadsheet for
monitoring pad expiration

  •  No more manual excel sheets monitoring when each AED’s battery and pads expire
  • No more manual self-check logs proving that you completed your regular, in-person device “readiness checks.”
  • No more hours of spent driving around to check your AEDs that are in multiple locations or tracking down upkeep records at your field offices.

AED Software Updates

An extremely important, yet often overlooked, aspect of AED maintenance is making sure your AED has the most up-to-date software installed.

AED manufacturers may provide software updates for devices that are already in the field to either:
(1) address a potential problem with a product that needs correction
(2) update a device to match the most recent resuscitation guidelines provided by experts..

Without a connected AED, updating your device becomes an entirely manual process. You need to individually update each AED in person. These updates also sometimes require specialized software and hardware supplied by the manufacturer – which can be expensive!

As you’ll see below, there is one connected AED model that supports remote software updates.

Rather than tracking down all your AEDs individually to make manual updates, connectivity can enable you to update your devices from the computer with the push of a button.

To sum it all up, connectivity makes maintaining your single AED or multi-unit program a lot easier!

Wirelessly Share Cardiac Arrest Event Data

When an AED is used during a cardiac arrest emergency, the device records data about the cardiac arrest patient and the emergency in general. This data can be invaluable to the healthcare providers that treat the patient at the hospital. For example, the AED captures the patient electrocardiogram (ECG) and the number of shocks delivered – both of which can help physicians take better care of the patient!

For most AEDs on the market today, obtaining event data from a cardiac arrest emergency requires someone to manually download the AED’s information through a cumbersome and inconvenient process.

For example, according to Cardiac Science’s “Using AED Manager” User Guide, for the Cardiac Science Powerheart G5 AED, in order to transfer and view patient data from the AED you must:

Install the “AED Manager” software (only supported on Windows 10)

If using a flash drive:

  1. Disconnect the defibrillation pads from the AED
  2. Attach a flash drive to the USB port on the AED.
    1. The AED copies information to the flash drive
    2. When finished, the AED prompts to remove the flash drive
  3. Remove the flash drive.
  4. Connect the pads to the AED and close the lid.
  5. To view the data:
    1. Plug the flash drive into a USB port on the computer. If a Windows Explorer window opens, close it. Each AED that has data on the drive appears in the AED list under Not Connected. You can view, print, and export the data as you would with a connected AED.

If using a USB cable (Cardiac Science G5 Data Cable – $30):

  1. Disconnect the defibrillation pads
  2. Attach the USB cable to the USB port.
  3. Connect the other end to the computer’s USB port. If a Windows Explorer window opens, close it.
  4. Start AED Manager.
    1. The AED prompts, “Communications Mode.”
    2. The AED appears in the AED list and the data is copied into AED Manager’s database.
  5. Disconnect the USB cable. After you disconnect the AED, its icon moves from Connected to Not Connected in the AED list
  6. Connect the pads.
I bet you stopped reading all those steps a while ago, and we don’t blame you!

This manual, multi-step, and frankly outdated process to transfer and view cardiac arrest event data exists for most AEDs on the market. The unfortunate result is that this valuable data is generally not available to key decision-makers (healthcare providers) in a timely manner. Additionally, in reality, even most AED owners don’t end up accessing this data.

As an AED owner, you shouldn’t have to deal with downloading special software, manually copying data to a flash drive, incurring additional costs, and going through a convoluted, multi-step process just to access and share data from your own device.

Connected AEDs can finally change this paradigm for the better! Most connected AED devices now enable the wireless transfer of cardiac arrest event data.

This seamless, and in some cases automated, transfer of data is certainly a step in the right direction. Moreover, AED owners can share the data with other key stakeholders involved in a patient’s post-arrest care.

Connected AEDs – Let’s Compare!

If you’re looking to join the “connectivity revolution,” then the obvious next question is, which connected AED is best for you?

There are currently three connected AEDs on the market in the U.S:

  • HeartSine Samaritan 350P with the HeartSine Gateway installed
  • Physio Control CR2 AED
  • ZOLL AED 3

As expected, each of these AEDs has different features and capabilities. To help make a decision on which device is right for you, check out the table below to compare these devices!

Category Feature HeartSine Connected AED(via HeartSine Gateway module)   PhysioControl CR2 AED ZOLL AED 3
Remote Device Monitoring & Tracking Bluetooth (BLE) Connectivity
Wi-Fi Connectivity X X X
Cellular Connectivity
GPS location Connectivity
Communicates with AED Program Management software to enable remote device monitoring X

LifeLink Central

X

LifeLink Central

X

PlusTrac

Communicates results of AED self-test  X X X
Communicates that AED battery is low X X X
Communicates that AED electrode pads are expiring or have expired X X X
Communicates that the device is outside of operating temperature range X
Communicates when the AED has been used X
Frequency of communication with AED Program Management Software to share device status  Weekly Monthly Weekly
Wireless AED software updates X
Sharing Cardiac Arrest Event Data Can wirelessly share cardiac arrest event data from AED via Wi-Fi X X
Event data is automatically shared without any intervention with the AED X
Other Uses independent power source to power connectivity features (preserves “life-saving” AED battery) X
While it’s clear that connected AEDs certainly have superior functionality, they are generally more expensive than non-connected AEDs. So as you’re considering whether a connected AED is right for you, it’s important to analyze the cost of each AED on the market today to determine whether your budget can accommodate the benefits that come with owning a connected device.

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