Calif. EMTs going paperless with patient records
Move supposedly increases efficiency, gets ahead of future government mandates
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
The Vallejo Times Herald
VALLEJO, Calif. — The Vallejo Fire Department paramedics are transitioning from paper to electronics for medical patient reports, a department official said Thursday.
The move increases efficiency and beats future government mandates to the punch, EMS Coordinator Michael Humphrey said.
"We've been working for the past couple of years on migrating from the four-copy written reports to an electronic reporting format for several reasons," Humphrey said. "Nationally (the trend is) going electronic and it will eventually be mandated. Also, it becomes a great tool for quality improvement."
Making information instantly searchable is one benefit, he said. Improvements in accuracy, efficiency and instant access to patient data are others, he said.
"I've been working on this for a year and a half, and we're at the point where we're doing both paper and electronic," Humphrey said. "We're ironing out some computer issues, and I think we'll be completely transitioned within a couple of weeks."
Med Media's EMSTAT 5 system, which cost the department just under $20,000, ensures data isn't lost by maintaining several off-site data storage facilities, with multiple backup levels, he said. The system "follows the progressive workflow of an EMS call and helps the user to complete patient care reporting and required data collection in a fraction of the time compared to traditional methods," according to the company website.
"People won't notice any difference in how we provide care, but they will be getting an improvement in the level of care," Humphrey said. "Our reports will be almost instantaneously added to their medical records with the hospital or doctors, so long-term medical care will see an improvement."
The new technology replaces faxes to hospitals that can take time to make their way to patients' hospital medical records. The electronic records will provide medical personnel a clear record and timeline of the service provided by the Vallejo Fire Department.
The system is being customized to the department's specific needs, Humphrey said.
"We're really enthusiastic about getting started, and crews have been working hard to train themselves and get comfortable with the system," he said. "This will be a huge step in providing a higher level of service to our citizens."
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