The Benefits of SaaS for First Responders
You may often hear about “The Cloud” or SaaS solutions – short for “software as a service” – and wondered if and how they may benefit those in the business of first response, firefighting, and health care. The truth is that many of the aspects of SaaS lend themselves quite well to use in the health care and emergency response industry, thanks to increased reliability, easier access, and lower upfront costs.
SaaS is a term used to describe any Web-based software tools and data storage solutions that can be accessed remotely from any device, anywhere. Technically, SaaS differs from the commonly used term, “The Cloud,” because the cloud is the virtual location itself where SaaS tools “live,” a collection of computers, servers, and databases connected to allow users to share their combined power. The other two well-known cloud services are infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).
Before the growth of SaaS tools, you typically had to purchase and install new software for your business onsite, with hardware that you had to buy and maintain, and licenses that you had to purchase full-out with additional 15-20% annual maintenance and support fees.
With SaaS, you now can typically buy a yearly membership and simply log in to existing user tools that the SaaS provider hosts and maintains remotely. This means the worry and cost of maintaining the hardware and software versions falls on the shoulders of the provider. Additionally, many SaaS providers spend more money to ensure a higher degree of data security than most small or medium organizations could afford themselves, making SaaS solutions more secure. Most SaaS vendors also undergo stringent security procedures and audits that regularly test their data centers’ levels of security.
Today a wide range of software tools are available for first responders, delivered as SaaS solution and offering benefits such as:
- Improved Shared Information Between Providers: Hospitals and EMS agencies are increasingly moving to the use of electronic patient care records (ePCRs) to make patient’s information easier to access, more accurate, and more streamlined throughout the care spectrum. A record can be started by an EMS agency and handed off in the emergency department, then on to nursing and physicians. This not only saves time for all providers, but helps ensure everyone is operating on the most updated information. Additionally, other software tools allow hospitals to more easily share data back with EMS agencies to allow them to review outcomes and identify areas for improvement in customer service and care.
- More Accurate Properties and Inspection: Software tools can walk even the newest firefighter through the correct steps and questions to ensure that information on all properties in your community are inspected in a similar way, with information recorded with the same terminology and notation.
- More Efficient Billing and Patient Follow-Up: Whether you are tracking patient billing or ensuring that your care coordinators contacting patients post-discharge have all the pertinent information, a robust digital record keeping system that is easily accessible helps ensure more efficient and productive work.
- Easier Analytics and Reporting: When it’s time to collect data for your audits, or you need to submit your statistics to organizations like NEMSIS, pulling the required information is simplified and easy. Additionally, many software tools include progressive accuracy checks so that records are guaranteed to have complete and accurate entries.
- More Informed Dispatch and First Impressions: Software tools that can be deployed to busses can help your first responders record more complete information, using consistent language and reporting, thanks to wizard-like software interfaces that help guide first impression records. Additionally, software technology is also helping dispatchers more accurately locate incidents, and help advise EMS teams on the best hospitals for transport based on data recorded on the scene.
- Optimized Personnel Management: From ensuring your employees’ vaccinations are up-to-date to managing continuing education and training hours, software tools can save you hours of work.
As the world becomes more digitally connected and technology-based, it makes sense that the recording and maintenance of the massive amounts of data involved in heath care follow the same path. Thanks to SaaS solutions, this future is becoming more affordable and efficient for all providers at every point along the care spectrum.