Keeping accurate and up-to-date patient records is key for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). For the EMS organization to operate efficiently, patient information must be streamlined from EMS first responders and paramedics to other personnel within the organization.
In the years before digital technologies were widely available, EMS staff used to keep patient records using a pen-and-paper system. These days, however, there are high-tech tools that accelerate the processes of storing and updating patient histories. One example is EMS electronic patient care report software (ePCR), which allows an organization to keep an electronic record of their patient’s health information, assessment, and treatment histories. Having dedicated ePCR software could do a lot to improve your EMS organization’s accuracy and efficiency. But before you make such investment for your EMS organization, what are the facts about ePCR software that you should know beforehand?
Below are seven important questions you should ask yourself before settling on an ePCR software. Having the answers to these will help you make a decision that’s good for the entirety of your EMS operations.
What Are My Options?
The first question you must ask yourself has to do with the options that are available to you. After all, not all ePCR solutions are made the same. One software package may be better for your organization to use than another. Go beyond the first option you see, make a list of viable contenders, and then narrow it down according to:
- What’s best for your healthcare organization’s budget?
- Which solution is scalable as your EMS organization grows?
- Which solution integrates best with the rest of the technology that you already use or are planning to use?
Is the Software Easy to Use?
The second question relates to the ease of use of ePCR software solutions. Some factors to consider are:
- How easy is it to input patient data into the ePCR software? Can you use mobile devices or tablets to input patient data?
- Does the software have a dashboard that shows what patient records need attention?
- How quickly can you generate reports that you can act on?
The ePCR software should make work easier for your staff, not complicate it. When the software is easy to use, less training is required and potential errors will be reduced.
Is Additional Hardware Needed?
Third, you must be able to determine the hardware requirements to get the ePCR software to run smoothly. Does the software require you to purchase additional servers to run smoothly? What other IT requirements are needed? Nowadays, most organizations find it extremely convenient to use a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) system because no additional hardware is needed. With cloud-based ePCR software, it is likely that the software can be used on mobile devices and tablets, making it extremely easy for EMS crew members to use and access when on the road.
Is the Software Easy to Maintain, Update, and Synchronize Locally if Needed?
Oftentimes, after you purchase software, you forget about what comes later after implementing the software. Some software is easy to update, such as cloud-based systems. Other software that requires local installations will need more manpower to main and update.
One important note if using a cloud-based system ePCR software – it is important that the solution can synchronize locally when the internet connection is unavailable. This is especially true if your EMS organization service rural areas or other areas where internet connection is not readily available.
What Do I Know About the Software Vendor?
It also matters where you get the ePCR software from. There are several things that you have to find out about your EPCR software vendor, including:
- Whether the vendor’s system is compliant with NEMSIS, or the National EMS Information System for standardizing EMS data collection.
- What their credentials are and what their reputation is like within the industry.
- If they have extensive experience in the healthcare information technology sector and if they are considered leaders among their peers.
If you find satisfactory answers for all of these questions, there’s a high likelihood that you and your software vendor are a good match.
How Will the Software Help Me Stay Compliant with Local Government Requirements?
Another important question you must ask yourself is whether the ePCR solution will help you meet your state EMS office’s requirements. For instance, the State of Virginia requires patient care reports to validate at 98% or higher to be considered valid. Your ePCR system should be customizable to follow the rules for compliance set by the governing body where you operate as well as NEMSIS. Whichever solution you select, it should make the task of being compliant easier for your EMS organization.
What Do My Peers Have to Say About Their ePCR Software Experience?
The last question you can ask pertains to how previous and current users of the ePCR software are faring. Look for information from your peers in the healthcare sector about the following:
- Overall, whether the ePCR software has strengthened EMS operations for its users.
- Whether it made their systems more organized and easier for EMS personnel to follow.
- Whether EMS organizations have seen operational improvements after implementing the software.
If you find compelling arguments for a specific ePCR software, then it may be worth acquiring for your own EMS organization.
The best EPCR software for your organization will help you realize your vision of strengthening your emergency services and further improving the overall operations of your EMS organization. Invest in a solution that will help you maintain a 360-degree view of your patient data that also simplifies the way you operate more efficiently.