SGMC Ambulances Now Equipped with Electronic Patient Records
Although electronic data transfer through wireless systems is commonplace in most hospitals, having this same capability in a moving ambulance has been more difficult to achieve. South Georgia Medical Center’s Mobile Healthcare Services now has this state-of-the-art wireless capability and it is a win-win for patients and staff alike. “Each on-duty paramedic or EMT is issued a laptop loaded with Image Trend Solutions® software,” explains EMS Chief Tim Brogdon. “When EMS responds to a call, the medics input data, such as vital signs and medications. When the patient arrives at the Emergency department, the data is then uploaded into the hospital’s electronic medical record system and the emergency physicians and nurses can review what went on in the field, step by step.”According to Jeremy Norman, EMS Assistant Chief of Clinical and Education Services, the benefits of the electronic patient care report (ePCR) include templates to guide EMS staff on how to document, quicker report completion times, quicker transmission of information into the hospital system and a more comprehensive, legible and detailed report. Locally, the electronic medical record technology is available in the Emergency departments of both SGMC and Smith Northview Hospital. If a patient is transported to a hospital or other facility that is not using an electronic medical record format, the medics can print paper copies of their reports using an on-board printer. According to Norman, all staff received six hours of training on the new system. The system is HIPAA privacy compliant with quality control measures built in.“In terms of man hours pushing paper, we expect to reap considerable cost savings with this new system,” Norman explains. “Before, paper reports traveled from the medics, to the EMS office staff, to medical records, to patient financial services to the reports final resting place in off-site storage. Now, there is no paper and the information automatically populates to where it needs to go.”Norman says another benefit of the technology is flexibility. The system allows protocols and clinical standards to be changed as needed without costly vendor support. The system pulls data for state and local reports with accuracy and ease.The Georgia Trauma Commission provided a partial grant to pay for the laptops with the Hospital Authority of Valdosta and Lowndes County providing the remainder of the funding. For more information, contact Community Relations at 229.259.4420.