July 2009 Supplement, Going Electronic

This special supplement, sponsored by High Plains, ImageTrend, Medusa, Ortivus and ZOLL, was developed to help you ensure that your data system is properly designed to communicate with components for dispatch, hospitals, monitoring, billing and quality review in a secure and easy way.


This special supplement to JEMS was developed to help you ensure that your data system is properly designed to communicate with components for dispatch, hospitals, monitoring, billing and quality review in a secure and easy way.

The Health IT Evolution

A man waiting for a train at a station notices a woman on the platform beginning to have what appears to be a seizure. The man uses his cell phone to dial 9-1-1, and the emergency dispatcher asks him to describe the problem and give his location. He describes the woman’s behavior and apparent condition to the best of his ability, but he’s not a clinician and can’t communicate with the patient, who is now unconscious. He’s also new to the city and doesn’t know the exact street address of his location.

Bedside Stories

A recent JEMS survey found that only 20% of EMS systems collect data on a notebook computer at the patient’s side.1 This fact seems astounding, considering the volume of portable computers and software applications available and customized for public safety. As professionals, we must realize that any delay in collecting patient information may mean losing accurate data, especially in a busy service where back-to-back calls can keep us on the road for hours before we start writing our reports.

Avoid Information Overload

The implementation of an EMS data system is a challenge to any agency. It not only requires a strong commitment to electronic data collection but also an understanding of its impact on resources within the daily workflow. If you’ve already implemented an electronic patient care reporting (ePCR) system, the goal of this article is to provide you with insight and suggestions on how to effectively use your data.

Revenue at Your Fingertips

Agencies considering their options for an electronic patient care reporting (ePCR) system tend to ask similar questions. Some of these include: What is the service model? Is it hosted locally at the agency or by the vendor? What does the flow of the report look like? What data can be entered? How long does it take to complete a report? Does the system feature touch-screen, handwriting recognition or keyboard data entry methods, or a combination of these? How accessible is the data for purposes of report writing and reading across the agency?

Playing Well with Others

Not all ePCRs are created equal, and the same is true for ALS monitors in terms of how their data can be used by ePCR systems. The three major ALS monitor/defibrillator vendors in the North American EMS market each have a data integration kit, sometimes called a Software Developers Kit (SDK) or an Application Programming Interface (API). Even if you’re not a programmer, you should take a close look at these data integration kits because your ePCR developer is going to have to work with it and the company that made it.

My Own Private ePCR

Nearly a decade ago, Acadian Ambulance Service–the nation’s largest privately owned EMS agency–developed, implemented and went “live” with its own ePCR system. With a massive service area and call volume, our organization needed to adequately transition away from paper and into the future of electronic records. Although many ePCR software packages are available on the market today, back in 2000, we decided to use our in-house expertise to develop our own program.

Time to Decide

So, you’ve made the decision to implement an ePCR solution. Congratulations, that was a good decision, which, if implemented correctly, will pay big dividends to you and your stakeholders.

System Profile: San Diego Medical Services Enterprise

San Diego has successfully used smart powerful devices and software in EMS for a decade, and soon that success will be available for users everywhere.San Diego’s EMS is responsible for the 9-1-1 medical care of 1.3 million citizens. This service is provided by San Diego Medical Services Enterprise (SDMSE), a highly successful public-private partnership between the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) and Rural/Metro Corporation.

System Profile: STRAC

“How many of you here today believe that in 10 years you’ll still be writing charts on paper forms?” asked Eric Epley, executive director of South Texas Regional Advisory Council for Trauma (STRAC). Not one of the 35 EMS administrators and officers in the room raised a hand.

System Profile: Medic

In 2002, Medic was experiencing substantial growth in call volume. (Call volume for the EMS agency, based in Charlotte, N.C., is up 230% since 1996.) The data entry and reporting for this increased load posed significant challenges for field personnel and support staff. At the same time, our agency leaders were also interested in having the ability to capture and analyze various data points with the intent of driving improvement in patient care and service delivery.

System Profile: Johnson County Ambulance Service

Just like computer aided dispatch and billing, patient care reporting has become a necessity for every EMS organization. But the process by which agencies collect and report their patient data is not standardized. There are many options–including electronic. And just as Ortivus has proven itself with its electronic billing and CAD products, they have done so in the electronic patient care reporting market by meeting the field and office needs with the upcoming release of its new Fusion ePCR.

System Profile: Littleton Fire Rescue

It’s finally happened! After 20 years of two other electronic patient care reporting (ePCR) systems, we believe we got it right this time at Littleton (Colo.) Fire Rescue (LFR). There’s peace between the administrators and end users, everyone loves the new ePCR system, and there’s happiness with one of the essential fire department tools that gets used every day.

Lee County (Fla.) EMS System Profile

Within seconds of a patient encounter, your sixth sense as a field provider tells you whether the patient is going to need to be transported or not. A few vitals signs and an assessment later, and this notion is confirmed or contradicted — more often than not, your gut was right.

Managing Lifelong Learning

One thing you can be sure of if you work in EMS or the fire service is that between certifications and continuing education classes, your career will be full of learning opportunities.

System Profile: Maine EMS

At Maine EMS (MEMS), our process to convert from a paper-based system isn’t a short story. We started in 1996 with a Request for Proposal (RFP), which began with considerable interest and activity but ended several years later because the contracted company wasn’t able to provide a stable product or an acceptable level of technical support.

No posts to display