Mednology Solutions of Excelsior has an app for the fast-paced ER

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 23, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Excelsior-based Mednology Solutions has developed software to improve hospital emergency room communication.

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HCMC emergency room Dr. Scott Joing, left, and SynapseBlue CEO David Sullivan displayed the new app for coordinating work in the ER.

Photo: Photos by ELIZABETH FLORES • eflores@startribune.com,

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Every minute counts at a hospital emergency department. But the hectic, unpredictable pace can make it a surprisingly inefficient workplace.

Overhead paging systems bark out tasks that fade into the background when paramedics rush a patient through the doors. Too often, doctors spend time getting drinking water for a patient — or searching for someone else to get it.

Excelsior-based start-up Mednology Solutions is developing software its founders say improves workflow at hospitals and urgent care clinics so that doctors and nurses can focus on medical care.

“Ultimately, it’s routing the request to the right person,” said David Sullivan, who started the healthcare information technology company almost two years ago with Dr. Matthew Barrett, an elementary school friend who until recently practiced emergency medicine at Fairview Southdale Hospital.

The company’s SynapseBlue software allows health care teams to send and receive simple text messages on iPhones or iPads to coordinate nonemergency tasks such as getting a room prepped, moving a patient for a diagnostic test or assembling a triage team while an ambulance is in route.

SynapseBlue can eliminate up to an hour of wasted time in an eight-hour shift, founders say.

Emergency room workers at Hennepin County Medical Center began testing the software in April after Dr. Scott Joing, an HCMC physician and adviser to the company, started tinkering with the software and decided to get the product into the hands of front-line hospital staff.

“There’s a lot of stuff that should happen that anybody can do,” said Joing, who now owns a minority stake in the company. “We want a person like a tech to do as many of those things as possible so the physician and nurses, especially, can focus on the patient and medical decisions.”

Dr. Travis Olives, now a physician at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, tested the software while a resident at HCMC. At first, Olives had concerns that the technology might get in the way of direct communication with nurses and support staff. But the simplicity made him a convert.

“It saved me a fair amount of time where otherwise I might have to go find someone to get things done,” Olives said. “It sounds silly, but when you’re working on a situation that changes from second to second, that can really be key.”

Judy Raether, a patient services coordinator at HCMC for 21 years, has been an active user of the SynapseBlue software, which offers a menu of messages she can send out to specific individuals or groups from her desktop computer.

Built-in messages

Routine messages are built in: A patient needs a glass of water or help using the restroom, for example. If a patient with chest pains needs to get an electrocardiogram, Raether can quickly alert emergency room staff when she hears that the radiology department is ready.

The simple texts avoid time-consuming phone calls and noise from pagers, while keeping the overall workplace operating efficiently.

“We’re not having to locate people all over the department,” Raether said.

Members of the team can push one button to say they’ve received a message. Or they can send back a note saying they are with a patient and available in five minutes.

Users can add special instructions to routine requests. Maybe the patient in A6 is ready for an EKG but requires a cardiac monitor, or needs a Russian interpreter.

An incoming ambulance

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  • The app works with iPhones and iPads by allowing teams to send or receive simple texts.

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