Charting in the electronic age
Volume 24, No. 4
Some time ago I wrote about the "new" software revolutions that were coming onboard regarding electronic non-paper medical charting (See: IFW Nov/Dec 2007). I prefaced that article with a column on the advances in laptop computers and the real developments made in that arena over the durability of devices to handle the rigor and demands of our job (See: IFW Sept/Oct 2007). I also pointed out some of the major issues that had come up regarding those software programs -- some involving technical support, glitches in the programs themselves, severe limitations that could be foreseen even standing outside the issue, and the very few options that were available to the providers looking to upgrade to this available technology. As in any maturing process, some of those issues have changed and some have been improved, greatly so, indicating actual practicality and acceptance.
One of the clear standouts that I observed in that original expose was ImageTrend?. Now the initial column (and the related research) did have trouble getting many to participate and given the fact that there were issues with some of the software companies at the time (concerns pointed out above) it is not surprising that an innovative and a progressive company might step to the forefront. It seems as if ImageTrend has done just that with the latest version (Ver.4) of the software. New and improved this may leave nothing to be desired. Like "pen-based" data entry? Touch screen? You get both. Like hand-held devices? You can have that too with the TapChart version that is now available on Windows Mobile devices, like SmartPhones. First responders can begin to document an incident on their phones and medical personnel can complete the ePCR on the mobile computer.
ImageTrend's "FieldBridge" has been completely redesigned with larger buttons for patient data entry. New designs for the patient layouts and the data entry abound along with improved screens for vital signs and integration with all major (Philips, ZOLL, LifePAK) EKG platforms is standard. Plus, the whole software package is totally a custom fit for an agency or system with its configurable resources. It will even fit specific protocols that may be unique to the user's system. This is totally within the scope of this software's capabilities.
You fire guys feel left out? Well do not feel that way at all. Several vendors recognize that Fire and EMS are both realities, so some vendors have merged, but the systems are still two different systems. ImageTrend's "Rescue Bridge" for Fire and EMS is on one platform, giving you everything you need for both services. Not only is it NFIRS 5.0 reporting compliant, you also get the inclusion for data entry on inspections, pre-planning, mapping, and vehicle and hydrant information (how cool to not have to search for that illusive plug in the dark!).
Administrators are not forgotten either. The administrative console in these systems provided vehicle management, training records, QA/QI, billing -- all integrated with the other software packages to monitor it all. This is a total data management system that can be configured to suit individual needs if necessary and still be implemented on a tight timeline. While that probably will not be necessary except in the most extreme situations, this is worth a close look if making the jump from paper to screen.
The other great potential for this integrated system is that it's web-based. Access most of the capabilities from almost any computer, input data, make changes to existing data and save work to one central server. While there may be severe security issues for the IT guys the encryption issues can be worked out without too many problems.
The days of paper are slowly ending and the demand of keeping records (medical or otherwise) in electronic format is clearly on the rise. Technology is here and there are some excellent products out there. I encourage you to do your homework and look at several before you make your choice. Consider ImageTrend?. No one pays me to say that. Check them out at www.imagetrend.com. Or, if you are reading this from www.fireworld.com, click the e-mail address in ImageTrend's ad to send them your questions.