Pixel Tracker

Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 5:07 am | Mostly Cloudy 47º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara County Fire, EMS Implementing Electronic Patient Record System

All information will be posted wirelessly on tablet devices so that every level of responder will have access to the latest data

Santa Barbara County is implementing an electronic patient care record system to make emergency medical services more efficient and effective.

Santa Barbara County Fire and the Emergency Medical Services Agency are setting up the new system with tablet devices in every first responder vehicle and training for firefighters, paramedics and hospitals.

The Panasonic Toughpads have touch screens and use a Windows 8 platform with ImageTrend, the patient record system. Every fire agency in the county will use the same device, as will the County Fire helicopter — which often responds to rescue calls — and every American Medical Response ambulance.

“One of the things health-care providers in hospitals are wanting is better information about what’s going on in the field,” EMS Director Nancy Lapolla said. “Instead of the verbal hand-off in the emergency room, this system will give them a heads-up so they have a better idea of what’s coming in.”

All information entered on the tablet devices will get posted wirelessly so every level of responder — firefighters, paramedics and hospital staff — has information about what care has already been given to the patient.

Fire Chief Michael Dyer said cellular and WiFi connectivity throughout the county is an issue, but firefighters and paramedics can update the information and it will get posted once they drive back into a coverage zone. Now, firefighters don’t enter patient data until they get back to a station and type into the desktop computer, he added. They usually have information written on little scraps of paper, their gloves, arms or whatever else they have nearby.

Reporting duties will get handed off agency-to-agency just as the patient is, so there is one seamless record per patient — something the county has never done, Lapolla said.

The current system is fragmented and not meeting the county’s needs, EMS Deputy Director John Eaglesham said, adding that having more data will help the county analyze patient outcomes.

EMS officials hope the new records will help them analyze emergency medical response, see what critical skills they need to focus on and improve patient outcomes.

Low-frequency, high-risk patients are always a challenge since first responders see them so rarely but need so much skill to care for them, Dyer said.

“We’re very excited, as you can tell,” Lapolla said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

She called it “the birth of our baby,” since the county is planning to implement the entire system in just nine months, with the first people trained in June.

The devices cost about $2,400 each, and County Fire was able to buy them for every fire agency with a Homeland Security grant. The PC platform is an industry standard, and the devices had to hold up to heat and rugged conditions, Dyer said. AMR bought the devices on its own.

ImageTrend, the patient record system on the devices, is already used by several California counties, including Ventura County, which shares an Emergency Medical Services Agency medical director with Santa Barbara County.

Dr. Angelo Salvucci helped Santa Barbara implement the system after Ventura did. These Toughpads have all the county’s procedures — including what drugs they use and personnel on duty for each station by shift — programmed in.

“We don’t want to lose focus of what our mission is, and that’s to take care of patients, but documentation is a critical part of what we do to take care of patients,” Lapolla said. “First responders are critical in what they saw then they got there, vitals — that really helps the next layer of response better understand what they need to do.”

Eventually, County Fire wants to use these tablets as the only device in the engines and trucks, with computer-aided dispatch, mapping and patient records all in one, Fire Division Chief Ray Navarro said.

He said the county’s staying ahead of electronic health record requirements that came with health-care reform.

Arson investigator Jason Snodgrass said fire investigators are already using the tablets for inspections and mapping.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.