5 reasons to adopt a cloud-based ePCR system

Agencies can improve productivity with flexible, accessible data

The following is paid content sponsored by MedaPoint

by Mike Rubin for EMS1 BrandFocus

Keeping track of patient records has traditionally been difficult and time consuming for agencies. However, EMS documentation has come a long way from pre-millennial paper-based systems. Today’s ePCR software is moving to the “cloud” – off-site computers managed by information technology (IT) experts who store and safeguard client data. Like email, cloud-based ePCR is accessed over the Internet and can be operated by users with little or no on-line experience.

cloud-based ePCRs keep everyone connected.
cloud-based ePCRs keep everyone connected. (Photo courtesy of MedaPoint)

By centralizing prehospital records on the cloud, EMS providers gain not only state-of-the-art features that might be absent from legacy systems, but also integration of field operations with other business functions. If your organization still hasn’t adopted cloud-based ePCR, here are five reasons why you should:

1. Gain flexible, real-time access to patient data from almost anywhere

Well-designed database management packages offer users almost limitless views of their data while eliminating the most common issues accompanying hard-copy files: lost, illegible, inaccurate or incomplete documents. Flexible, reliable access to strategic information enhances productivity and facilitates data-driven decisions.

If you’re new to automated records, keep in mind that ePCR is a broad term that can refer to any kind of electronic patient-care reports. Prospective ePCR customers will want to make sure vendors offer real-time, district-wide data access. On rare occasions when an Internet connection isn’t available, portable workstations should permit temporary, off-line storage of patient-care details so double entry isn’t required.

2. Outsource the expertise

In Search of Excellence, the influential 1982 book on corporate success by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, lists “Stick to the knitting” – stay close to the business you know – as one of eight attributes of excellent companies.

The business of EMS is patient care, not systems integration or database design. Maintaining an IT department at headquarters would be as impractical for most agencies as hiring full-time plumbers or electricians. Cloud computing allows EMS providers to outsource IT and focus on prehospital operations.

Some of the most important aspects of system administration are also the most challenging for in-house IT; data security, for example. Cloud-based applications offload much of that responsibility to software developers. Shortcuts circumventing data encryption and backup are rarely seen on hosted networks, if for no other reason than vendors are as eager to minimize their own risks as their clients’.

3. Avoid large, up-front expenditures for soon-to-be-outdated software

Software is, by its nature, perishable. Perpetual enhancements to hardware and programming tools allow IT professionals to begin improving the versatility and responsiveness of their applications within months or even weeks of installation.

Knowing ePCR will undergo continuous upgrades should make users consider leasing rather than buying those packages. Coordinating software revisions in house can be a major headache for even the most experienced systems managers. Most modifications to hosted programs occur seamlessly, with little or no involvement by end users.

4. Integrate ePCR with related data

Much of the data processed by ePCR is also manipulated by associated EMS applications, such as receivables. Cloud-based systems’ comprehensive software suites facilitate sharing of billable transactions, thereby reducing or eliminating invoicing delays.

Agencies struggling with incompatible programs scattered among decentralized departments should explore Web-based enterprise-wide solutions that also integrate ePCR with dispatching, purchasing, inventory control and personnel. Even external data hubs like hospitals and medical offices can be brought on line securely to help evaluate patient outcomes.

5. Ensure regulatory compliance

With hosted software, agencies don’t have to micro-manage regulatory details, an onerous task often requiring on-site specialists. Turnkey compliance with HIPAA, NEMSIS and state regulations is part of what users are paying for.

If your agency still relies on hard-copy records, or is struggling with the inefficiencies of legacy software, consider cloud-based ePCR; it could be your quickest path to quality assurance.

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