New app aims to improve inter-hospital communication

Sample screenshot of the Join app

The University of Chicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial staff will soon be able to communicate with their Hyde Park colleagues more effectively with a new messaging app for medical professionals.

Ingalls neurologist Engin Yilmaz, MD, said physicians and others who work with stroke patients will be the first in May to use Join, an app that works similarly to the popular WhatsApp messenger.

“Stroke treatment needs interdisciplinary collaboration among neurologists, neurosurgeons, the emergency department, radiologists, paramedics and more,” Yilmaz said.

Ingalls will transfer stroke patients to the UChicago Medicine Hyde Park campus for thrombectomy procedures, or surgeries to remove a blood clot from a blood vessel or artery. Doctors have about a six-hour window to perform a thrombectomy beginning when a patient first experiences stroke symptoms.

“The Join app promises to aid in the effective communication between physicians at Ingalls and those at University of Chicago Medical Center through rapid, seamless and secure transmission of both physicians' comments and, importantly, of brain images,” said neurologist James Brorson, MD, medical director of the University of Chicago Medicine Stroke Center. “This has the potential to speed up transfers, and even to improve decision-making so that only patients who can benefit from transfer will be transferred.”

Every minute counts when treating acute stroke, and we hope that this tool will save precious minutes.

Yilmaz said about two or three patients per month are transferred to Hyde Park for the procedure. Currently, physicians text or call each other to determine if a patient is eligible for the surgery. Yilmaz said swift and efficient communication breaks down with the use of multiple channels for communication.

The Join app allows staff to send one-on-one and group messages and images immediately, including CT scans and CT angiograms. Yilmaz said he hopes the Hyde Park and Ingalls groups can soon use the ambulance tracking feature, where a user can see the location of an ambulance in real time.

“Timely and efficient transfer of patients will ultimately improve patient outcomes,” Yilmaz said.

No other hospitals in the Chicago Southland area are using this technology yet. After two years of planning, Yilmaz said he is excited to see how the Join app will ultimately improve patient care.

“Every minute counts when treating acute stroke, and we hope that this tool will save precious minutes in the delivery of acute stroke treatments for these patients,” Brorson added. “We appreciate the hard work that Dr. Yilmaz and other Ingalls colleagues have put into this project, and we look forward to seeing it bear fruit soon!”

Stroke Center

The University of Chicago Medicine is a Joint Commission Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, nationally recognized for its expertise in providing the highest level of care for stroke patients.

Read more about our stroke expertise