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2020’s Best ePCR Software: How ESO EHR Revolutionizes ePCRs

ESO Staff

Digital information is the key to modern life; with the pervasive nature of smart phones and device, the Cloud, and city-wide wireless networks, information is at our finger tips, 24 hours a day. In almost every industry, going digital has been the key to more efficient operations and connectivity, and the health care industry is no different.

Today, a patient’s electronic health care record can make it faster to diagnosis symptoms, easier to avoid medical errors, and even making billing and reimbursement more efficient. However, with the nature of patient privacy and HIPAA regulations, electronic patient care record (ePCR) software faces unique challenges, including requiring extra levels of protection, accuracy, and security.

The Days of Paper Records

For decades, hospitals and EMS agencies depended on hand-written notes for documentation of impressions, medications administered, and progression of symptoms. Hastily handed off upon arrival at the ED and painstakingly reentered into the hospital records system, the paper records left much to be desired. Searching for a missing document or running the risk of making a mistake when transcribing the information were very real issues.

And the challenges didn’t stop at the ED. The pain was felt in the billing department, as they had to track down a missing record. A treating physician might have to search around for missing notes, or another member of staff might have to transcribe handwritten documents into the records system. Hospitals looking to complete audits, prove compliance, apply for grants, or take on a new QI/QA project faced the daunting task of building spreadsheets or using calculators to pull metrics, crunch numbers, and create reports. A world of helpful data was often untapped, simply due to the inability to easily access it.

The ePCR Evolution

When ePCRs first began gaining popularity in the early 2000s, they were essentially electronic versions of old paper forms used by EMS agencies, ambulance services, and fire departments. And many of them stayed that way for years. Others have come and gone, as state and federal reporting requirements have become more complex.

But as documentation has become more important for EMS organizations – and the sophistication of care provided to patients by EMS has increased dramatically – the best EMS patient documentation systems have grown in both capability and popularity within EMS agencies of all types.

Digital records made it easier to arrive at the ED with complete patient care records, since they are ideally easier and faster to use. Some ePCR tools offer access to online databases and dosing references, making prehospital care more efficient and effective. Progressive, interactive forms alert you to any mistakes along the way, and ensure that all required fields are completed.

Finally, digital records stored in a high-quality ePCR tool make it easier to pull, process, and report out metrics. This helps agencies ensure compliance, apply for grants, plan budgets, or simply give an insight into agency operations.

What EMS Agencies Look for in an ePCR Tool

With the many potential opportunities for improvement in EMS operations thanks to an ePCR software tool, it should also be noted that not all tools are created equal. Purchasing and transitioning to an ePCR tool represents not only a financial cost, but also man-hours of training, adjustments, and upgrades. An ePCR tool is a long-term relationship, and it’s important to know what to look for when shopping for your solution.

For example, an EMS agency should take into consideration:

  • Ease of use and learning curve: A good ePCR tool makes EMS operations more efficient, not more cumbersome. While there is a learning curve in all software tools, EMS agencies want something that is easy to train on, and then helpful in daily activities in the station or ambulance.
  • Integration with other systems: EMS agencies should expect their ePCR tools to integrate with current and potential future systems, such as dispatch systems, cardiac monitors, HIEs, NFIRS, billing systems, hospital EMR and more. Failure to have this results in tedious workarounds that only take more time and headache.
  • Good Support from the Vendor: It’s important to understand the full cost of an ePCR software tool over time, including future upgrades, training, support, and number of users. You want to be sure that there are no costly surprises as your agency grows or as new features might be introduced. It’s also very helpful to choose a vendor that understands the prehosptial and hospital industries, including a vision for the future, how billing systems work, and the daily tasks of an EMS agency.
  • Useful Built-in Analytics: Rather than spending hours or days digging through data and struggling with homemade Excel spreadsheets, a good ePCR tool should help you make complex data easy. The tool should provide access to data and reports so that you don’t have to become a data analyst.

Features That Help Improve Patient Care

A good ePCR tool not only improves operational efficiency and reporting on the back end, but can directly improve patient care during emergency response. In fact, in a world where minutes can make a difference in life and death, ePCRs help EMTs deliver faster, more accurate care, and hand off to the ED more efficiently.

For example, with the ESO Electronic Health Record (EHR) software, several features save EMTs time while administrating care.

  1. Patient Look-Up: If you find yourself caring for a patient you’ve recently seen, there’s no need to start from scratch on their record. For patients you’ve treated within the last 90 days, you can use the patient lookup feature to automatically import key patient data, including medications, allergies, DOB, address, and other demographic information.
  2. Quicktreat: For calls that you need an especially quick response, the Quicktreat feature simplifies to allow you to quickly record: basic vitals, general treatments, and common medications administered. CPR treatments. Quicktreat also allows you to send an alert to the receiving hospital in advance with your anticipated arrival window.
  3. Built-in Signature Capture: Often medics capture data on an iPad or device with a touchscreen, sometimes making collecting signatures a challenge, especially for elderly patients. ESO’s patient signature forms have smart logic that only allows patients to sign directly within the signature box without allowing them to accidentally navigate away or delete information. This allows you to take just a quick moment to obtain signatures, leaving more time for more urgent needs.

Features That Streamline Reporting and Operations

Back at the station, it’s important to have a way to measure agency efficiencies and performance, both for the team as a whole and for individuals. The ability to pull a wide range of run reports over a specific window of time makes it easier than ever to see trends, issues, or needs for additional training.

The ability to pull your most common calls helps you learn more about your community, helping you form your next CRR plan. Also, being armed with your EMS agency’s “data story” can prepare you for your next budgetary discussions, making a strong case for more equipment, head count, training, or vehicles.

Additionally, the ability to easily pull historic data for your agency ensures that you remain in compliance with your regional, state, and national reporting requirements. It allows you the ability to meet NEMSIS 3 guidelines and help form a more complete nationwide picture of the EMS industry for the U.S. Finally, most grant applications require historic data and incident reporting; the ability to include clean, robust metrics makes your grant applications stronger and more competitive.

The Next-Generation ePCR

Making the switch to a new ePCR system, or entering into one for the first time, is a commitment of time and resources, but can pay off exponentially in improved patient care, more efficient operations, and better insight into trends and employee performance. Make sure that your next ePCR truly incorporates all the possible features that can take your EMS agency’s operations to the next level.

Learn more about ESO EHR now.

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