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Emergency medical services (EMS) software tracks time, patient records, billing, and vehicle management for public and private emergency medical departments. The software helps medical professionals reduce costs and stay compliant with local, state, and federal mandates. Many EMS and fire departments are shifting from juggling radio dispatch, telephone calls, and pen-and-paper record keeping to EMS software that provides an all-in-one solution. Adoption of EMS software has led to a reduction in lost records and increased response times to emergency situations.
This guide is designed to give you a general overview of the features and use cases for EMS software. You will also read a case study and learn about top vendors that can provide solutions for your emergency medical department.
The best EMS software includes features that not only increase the speed of response to exigent situations, but also save time in record keeping and decrease mistakes during patient hand-off. Some EMS professionals claim that up to 80 percent of mistakes in medical care stem directly from “miscommunication during transfers in care.” Electronic records are just one way EMS professionals and teams can take better care of patients and get the right data gets to the right medical professionals.
Before you commit to a vendor, do your homework and compare what the vendor offers with your current needs. Here are some of the most common features to consider:
Many EMS software platforms provide computerized scheduling and timekeeping features. Input employee certifications, time off requests, state and local time requirements, and other custom data, and the program will build a complete and compliant schedule that employees and managers can view and disperse electronically among the team. Team members can check their own schedules, trade shifts with manager approval, and make time off requests on their own time and without paper. Timekeeping software moves employee hours from time cards to electronic check-ins. This reduces payroll time, errors, and costs. Payroll professionals can export hours in spreadsheets instead of performing manual entry.
CAD features combine phone bank software with medical recordkeeping and location services to improve response times and dispatcher efficiency. This software builds a call queue, allows dispatchers to track call triage data, schedule ambulance pickups, and view patient history. Think of CAD as a mixture of customer relationship management (CRM), voice over IP (VoIP), location verification, and fleet scheduling services designed to improve dispatch speed and recordkeeping. Patient records and billing data live right where the dispatcher can access them and share with assigned emergency technicians.
Like any medical facility, ambulatory services require patients to pay for services, and accurate record keeping is important. Billing services included in EMS software give you control over coding and insurance claims. Electronic billing services give emergency medical teams access to faster claims and bills, which in turn results in faster and more accurate payments.
Until recent software advancements gave EMS caretakers access to electronic records, all ePCR data and patient data was recorded on paper forms, copies of which were provided to patients or other medical professionals. The move to electronic records has improved accuracy of required fields and billing data. Transferring patient records electronically speeds communication with other medical professionals and reduces the chances of lost records.
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) must stay certified to avoid licensure fines and remain compliant according to local, state, and federal regulations. EMS software that includes training features (or a dedicated and learning management system) can help users gain and maintain required certifications and continue building their knowledge with the advent of new medical discoveries or technology.
Company: Castle Rock EMS
Solution: High Plains EMS
Challenges: The Castle Rock EMS serves 51,000 residents in Douglas County, Colorado. Their staffing requirements and service area required many teams to go on several calls in a row before returning to the station, where they would record details from their treatment and fax those details to hospital providers.
The Castle Rock EMS team wanted a solution that would cut down on the time EMS workers spent completing paperwork and make the process more immediate and accurate. Under the current system, teams would take pen and paper notes while in the field, and at their earliest shift change, write up as much of the treatment as they could remember. Once the report was complete, the team faxed a record of treatment to the next caretaker — usually a hospital. This strategy wasted a lot of time, because EMTs spent the end of every shift trying to remember treatment from hours before. This also caused treatment delays, since other medical professionals sometimes had to wait hours for a complete treatment record from transport.
Solution: The Castle Rock EMS team chose to deploy High Plains EMS software on WiFi-enabled laptop computers in each of their vehicles. The modular software is available for both EMS and FRS purposes and allows each organization to choose the best software to fit their teams. Castle Rock chose the ePCR, hoping in the process to decrease employee paperwork and speed patient record handoff during transition.
Results: Norris Croom, division chief of operations for Castle Rock EMS, reported that teams were saving “approximately 20 minutes per emergency call, and at over 20,000 EMS calls per year, that time definitely adds up.” The department also reports that over the first six years the software was in use, no patient records went missing.
The best EMS software vendors will give you flexibility to choose the modules you need and won’t make your organization responsible for those you don’t. If your current scheduling system works for your team, you should check out the options that include only a dispatch system and an ePCR. You’ll also want to evaluate your current systems and hardware. Some of these solutions may require a particular operating system, while others can deploy directly onto smart phones.
Friese, Greg. “How Technology is Transforming EMS.” EMS1.com. 22 Dec, 2016. https://www.ems1.com/ems-products/software/articles/132487048-How-technology-is-transforming-EMS/
Panasonic Corporation of America. “EMS Responders Use Mobile Technology for Efficient and Accurate Patient Care.” highplains.com. Nov 2009. http://www.highplains.com/Downloads/Castle_Rock_CF30_Case_Study.pdf.