Minutes matter. Emergency medical technicians like Crystal Law ’07 know this too well.
After reviving heart-attack victims in ambulances en route to hospitals on Boston’s north shore, Law was often frustrated by what many EMTs see every day: an inefficient system for getting vital stats from a moving vehicle to a stationery hospital and its overworked staff.
Now Law says that she’s found a solution through software. In 2013, she launched Twiage, a software service for EMTs and health care workers.
Twiage (a combination of “Twitter” and “Triage”) lets EMTs send real-time diagnostic stats on patients from a central database to the entire chain of doctors, nurses, and medical personnel who will treat a patient as she arrives at a hospital and is checked in.
Twiage founder Crystal Law ’07.
Law founded the company with a doctor and a serial entrepreneur and sought mentoring from MIT Sloan Entrepreneur in Residence Zen Chu and Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology EIR Mike Dempsey. The Twiage team entered last fall’s MIT 100k Pitch Contest where their product placed in the top three in the mobile category.
A month earlier, Twiage won Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) iHub Hackathon in a landslide vote. In December, it won the 2014 Massachusetts Medical Society IT Award, given for innovation in information technology for medicine.
Twiage works essentially through photo-sharing. While in an ambulance, or in an emergency room, a patient is photographed along with a photo of his vital stats readout. This is sent via HIPPA approved code to a server which doctors and medical personnel can view in the hospital.
Twiage, Law says, saves EMTs time in explaining a patient’s ever-changing state and needs to medical staffs while they themselves are in a distracted state. Radios can be staticky, doctors too busy to listen, and ambulances too stuck in traffic. Twiage lets all parties access info on their own timeframe.
“We’re going for something simple and elegant,” says Law of Twiage. “[Co-founder] Dr. YiDing Yu and I worked to create a concise dashboard of the pertinent information that EMTs and doctors need, so we don’t have stop what we’re doing.”
With Twiage, Law told JustMeans in an interview, “there’s no more waiting around, no more health care providers trying to catch each other up because they already know what’s happening.”
This winter, Law is piloting the software in a major Boston hospital. One of the biggest obstacles to date, given that Twiage relies on each EMT’s personal device, has been security.
“It’s always on our minds,” Law says. “We’re always hacking away at encryption. Security is a major part of the development effort and is made much harder by our support for bring-your-own-device. We have to do security from scratch and every bit of added security impacts performance, battery life, user experience, and functionality.”
Recently, Twiage won seed funding from Blueprint Health in New York City, and Law and her team hope to continue raising capital to expand their business and its functionality.