Sponsored by LogRx
By Courtney Levin, EMS1 BrandFocus Staff
Tracking controlled substances is a big deal for agencies that provide emergency medical services. Every vial, down to the milligram, must be accounted for to remain compliant – but using a pen and paper to log narcotics can be time-consuming and exposes agencies to an array of fines, and even the revocation of their license, if not properly done.
Instead of relying on manual tracking processes, EMS agency staff can use the smartphones already in their pockets to view inventory levels and log administration or a box transfer within a matter of seconds. LogRx, a mobile app compatible with Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, helps agencies stay up to date on controlled substance tracking without needing to invest in expensive equipment.
EMS1 spoke with Clive Savacool, founder and CEO of LogRx, to learn more about how he developed this unique solution.
Tell me about your experience in the public safety industry.
I’ve served as a paramedic and a firefighter for 25 years. Much of that time was spent in the San Francisco Bay Area working for American Medical Response (AMR) and Contra Costa Fire Protection District where I climbed the ranks at a large department, eventually serving as the county’s training chief. The region was pretty big, serving almost a million people, and it was a very high call volume area, so I gained a lot of experience, both in the field and in management.
I’ve worked for both large and small fire departments, most recently leaving my job as the fire chief for the city of South Lake Tahoe before the age of retirement to grow LogRx because I could see how much of a need there was in the industry.
How did you come up with the idea to develop LogRx?
It came from being in the industry for so long and seeing a longstanding issue viewed as common practice – something in the fire service referred to as “normalization of deviance”. So, even back when I started paramedic school in ’97, it always struck me that you have these very lethal and addictive drugs that are being tracked with a simple paper log, similar to what you’d see when you go to an event. You go to an outhouse, and they have the log sheet on the door showing the last time it was cleaned, a practice that most would consider negligent considering what is at stake.
Being in a big agency, there were two separate occasions during my time where narcotics were unaccounted for, something the medical field refers to as a “diversion.” In one scenario they went missing and were never found, and in the other scenario, it was discovered that someone actually stole them. So that’s how the idea came to me – there’s a huge void in the industry and I’ve never been someone to stand by when I see a problem.
The concept was to build a program that allowed for the highest level of accountability, yet also something where fire departments and EMS agencies don’t have to buy any equipment. Everyone already has a smartphone – it has biometrics, a scanner, GPS locations. Many agencies already use tablets when completing their patient care reports (PCRs) and smartphones for communicating with their base hospital. So, we wanted to take advantage of what people already carry. We provide the tamper evident seals for drug boxes and labels for drug vials … and nothing else is needed.
When you initially launched, was LogRx as robust as it is now, or did you gradually include different features along the way?
It was definitely gradual and that’s one of the benefits of not having a lot of money when you’re building a startup. You kind of go slow, but at a good pace to grow in conjunction with customer feedback. There are actually potential problems when companies get an influx of investor money – they dump a lot of resources into building what they think is the perfect product and when they launch it, they realize they need to scrap a lot of the work they did since they were insulated from that valuable end user input. Because of how we did it, we actually sought out feedback from our early customers in an effort to make the program work better for them in the field. We started with a very basic platform and have been modifying and improving it over the years.
What has been your biggest challenge since starting LogRx?
I think brand awareness has been our biggest hurdle currently. A lot of people just don’t know about us and don’t realize what we have. I’m biased but we have the best program available because narcotics tracking is all we do and it’s what we focus on, rather than trying to be the master of all without first building a strong program in one area. We wanted the perfect narcotics tracking platform and we wanted to make it easy. It has worked so well that we’re expanding to include other aspects of fire responder responsibilities. First responders are busy with a lot on their plates, and they don’t always have time for change and learning new programs, so we wanted to bring in a product that would make their job easier and be simple to learn.
When the company started doing well, I struggled with being a full-time fire chief and being the CEO of a startup that was taking off. I was working 60-plus hours a week as a fire chief and then fitting in being a CEO where I could. My last chief job was in South Lake Tahoe during the pandemic – we had two massive wildfires, including the Caldor Fire in 2021, burning over 200,000 acres, where we evacuated 30,000 people; we had a budget crisis and worked to successfully pass a tax measure to save one of the three fire stations from closing and nine firefighters’ jobs; there were massive snow storms where thousands of people were stuck; and we set up clinics vaccinating 20% of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was managing a ton as chief on top of trying to onboard all the new LogRx customers that were coming in. It was a tipping point for LogRx, and I realized if I didn’t make the leap to being a full-time CEO, we were going to miss a major opportunity. Plus, you only live once, and this was also a great opportunity for me personally.
How does using LogRx change first responders’ attitudes toward narcotics tracking?
Your staff will only take something as seriously as you do, so if you tell people, “Here’s a piece of paper, fill this out at your leisure and someone will pick it up eventually,” how important are they going to prioritize that in their mind? My mindset is if you give agencies an efficient program that’s monitored in real-time and can’t be pencil whipped, it tells your staff that it’s important and it helps keep honest people honest. It also saves a lot of time when it comes to sorting through stacks of paper. I’ve had customers who said LogRx saved them from potential fines from the DEA, and that their local medical directors have been very happy when it comes time for an audit.
I like to use the analogy that using pen and paper is like driving without a seat belt. You’re fine until something goes wrong and then it’s too late to put your seat belt on. Our program provides that level of accountability and makes sure narcotics tracking is important in people’s minds. What’s best is that it’s easy and the end users like it. Anything to help with compliance as a manager is always a welcome relief, which is why we haven’t had a single customer leave since we’ve launched LogRx.
What’s next on the horizon for LogRx?
We are continuously working to add new features to the app to meet customer needs such as the ability to track all medications. In the near future, we will be able to manage medical supplies, equipment used in the field, first responders’ personal protective equipment and even vehicle checks.
For more information on mobile controlled substance tracking, visit LogRx.