Electronic Charting and EMS
Volume 22, No. 6
When I wrote the piece last issue on durable computer hardware for charting and patient data collection, I had some difficulty actually finding suitable products to talk about. Much of this was due to the fact that there really was not much out there that I found to be workable for the environment (except the Panasonic Toughbook?) and the fact that many vendors were not very willing to talk regarding their products. This is something I did not and still do not understand. I mean, really, you DO WANT to sell them, right? The issues with software were even worse. This is the cutting edge in the electronic patient care arena and is supposed to centralize and 'simplify' the collection of ALL data, and yet no one wants to talk about the "great stuff" they have.? Well almost no one....
First, one of the apparent problem children that's out there.? ROAM IT? has several issues.? One, a local provider here in the Las Vegas valley has been trying to get this software platform up and running as a functional tool for over TWO YEARS without success. Is the issue the software or more complex management and compatibility issues. I'm not clear if it's operating system compatibility or what, but I do know there is great frustration with the whole ROAM IT?. I contacted for product information. They told me about their product and offered to send me a plethora of information and screen shots that I could publish if I so desired. Then, nothing happened. I never heard another word from them, and e-mails and calls after that went unanswered. Really makes me want to be a customer.
Now, in all fairness to ROAM IT?, there are big success stories for their software from reports I have gotten. ROAM IT? is underway in a major roll-out in the Chandler/Tempe/Phoenix, AZ metropolitan area while they are VERY excited about this, there are issues? according to Val Gale, EMS Operations Captain for Chandler FD. Some hardware/software communication issues that have become a challenge that involve wireless and modem communication and some hardware/wireless card "hibernation" situations that have been annoying at best.? Their cellular provider and their techies are working on those problems. Another issue seems to be the technical support and customer service they are not getting out of ROAM IT?.? Let's just say, "the service could be better" and if it weren't for the buyer's diligent IT project manager constantly on this company, they might not be where they are today. Still, Captain Gale is very positive, although frustrated and tired about this and is very excited about what this product will be able to do regarding data collection and research, patient charting and eliminating the vast number of file cabinets that clutter all of their offices!?
Another company that was very forthcoming with product information is Image Trend?. This is a software company that is offering a state of the art, real-time patient data collection and reporting system. This one is sweet! This one seems to "do it all," from patient charting, demographic data collection (you EMS Managers will love some of the features here), and billing (if you need to do that part of the operations). The software also is NHTSA and HIPPA ready, so those federal privacy worries and considerations are eliminated within a multi-tied security module. This is a very important consideration with the heavy scrutiny that's being given to all issues of patient confidentiality in the electronic age.
One of the real pluses that I see in this software is the "pen-based" data entry. This keeps the "clipboard" style that many of us are so accustomed to and makes for patient information to be rapidly entered into the forms. The menus are standard "pull-downs" with multiple options available and there are separate Trauma and Medical Bridges available if you so desire.? This software can also be protocol driven and be tailored to individual system and agency protocols, both medical and operational. This can greatly help in efforts to cut down on the medical errors (at least those driven by protocol errors) in the field and to help closely monitor field performance. This Active Protocol? feature has color coding for various "power tools" (i.e. IV's, vital signs, etc.) and each get a real-time "time stamp" when the action is completed for better documentation.
Ok, so you buy the fancy new software, your techies load it on your field notebooks (and your mainframes) and you are good to go, right?? Hardly. The responders all look at you and say, "huh"?? Now what?? So, you have to train them to use the new software, right? YOU have to be very well trained in the usage to "train" your people. That is easier said than done.? A good thing is that Image Trend can also offer in-service training to get your agency up to speed and running with this product. I don't mean to imply there won't be issues (remember, Chandler...as there are always going to be issues) but anytime we can eliminate one big issue, and I think user friendly software and product interface with the "end-user" is a major one, then we are well on the way to successfully hauling those file cabinets to the dump. Check out Image Trend? at www.imagetrend.com.