How to buy ePCR
By Greg Friese
Click, tap, tap, type, click, tap, type, type, click, check, sync, and send. EMS professionals are writing and transmitting electronic patient care reports with handheld, laptop, and desktop computers. Advantages of an electronic Patient Care Report (ePCR) over a paper-based PCR include standardized documentation, easier data query for quality improvement processes, and transfer of data to generate billing for service.
Here are the top ten features to consider when purchasing ePCR software:
1. Find out if a state or regional government ePCR system is already available for free or a below market cost. Further, find out which costs they cover and which they don't.
2. Ensure a data transfer bridge exists between the ePCR software and any mandatory regional or state databases that your organization transfers data into.
3. Determine costs to maintain and upgrade software over its expected life.
4. Availability and cost of initial in-person and online training for organization administrators, billing staff, and field personnel.
5. Availability and cost of 24/7 technical support.
6. Wireless, data card, or Bluetooth transfer of data from a cardiac monitor into the ePCR is a must-have feature that saves documentation time and increases accurate transmission of assessment data to other health care professionals.
7. Ability to customize ePCR data entry screens for state, regional, and local data elements.
8. Presence of compliance checkers that set required fields before a report can be completed.
9. Automation of ePCR distribution to receiving facility, billing office, and quality assurance reviewers.
10. Intuitive process for generating reports based on software developer templates and custom data queries.
Since most ePCR programs will have similar features, Rich Obertots, Managing Director of Red Bike Medical Technologies has these suggestions for ePCR decision making:
EGO vs. ECONOMY: Ego can skew the true total cost of ownership; just because another service has a very expensive brand does not mean it is a more cost effective brand. Protect your dollars so that you can allocate them across your organization. More expensive does not necessarily result in more effective! Focus on outcomes and economy, not ego.
Compare e.APPLES to e.APPLES. Set up a Value Justification Matrix, similar to how Consumer Reports rates products to enable you to objectively compare each software system you are evaluating. Try to keep the emotion out of it. (This will not be easy or necessarily happen, but try.)
12 cylinders or four cylinders? What are your true power requirements? Time and time again, organizations purchase software systems with capabilities far exceeding their actual user requirements. Just because a system will do 10,000 operations, will your users really use these? Yes, you should factor for increasing capabilities, but top-level companies will enable you to economically scale these up.
No strainer scalability. Be very sure that it's a "No Strainer" to scale up capabilities or modules. Select a light lifting system (not a heavy lifting system), which means high cost and high complexity to increase ePCR software capabilities.
What are the other essential criteria for ePCR software for EMS agencies? Any other suggestions? Anything we missed in the list above? Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.