Thursday, July 3, 2014

Choosing an ePCR Program that Fits

Happening Now!
If you follow EMS communications either online or in print, by now we’re sure you’re aware that two competing electronic Patient Care Reporting (ePCR) companies have recently locked horns in patent court over what one company asserts is a patent infringement by the other company.

We’ll leave the discussion of the specifics for the news people, for now.
Shopping for ePCR Software
But the end result appears to be that there will be many of you who will be looking to spec out a replacement ePCR program if and when one of the companies ceases to offer their particular application by force of a legal determination.

So, this week we thought it would be helpful weigh-in on how to choose an ePCR program that fits your department’s needs.

Criteria
From our standpoint, here in the billing office and given our experience in the field, we believe that there are a few important criteria to consider when considering using a new program.

We offer three areas for you to consider when shopping for a new program. 
  • User Friendliness
  • Price
  • Ability to Connect with Others

User Friendliness
Probably the most important of all criteria is the user friendliness of the application program. Choosing an ePCR program is an important step because it’s painful to set-up and painful to train the troops on how to use the program you choose.

Finding a program that flows nicely and causes the user to spend the least amount of time completing his/her Patient Care Report following the run is a huge necessity. It you want your department’s trip sheets to be completed as quickly following each EMS incident, then make a program available to your staff that everyone seems to like to use.

It makes the job easier.

If you are a crew member, do your best to get to know the program. If you don’t understand something, ask an administrator or use any online helps tools provided by the ePCR company itself.

Administrators, also consider how robust the ePCR company’s support team is. Be sure to ask questions when considering buying into using a particular ePCR program. Especially talk to other departments that are already using the program you’re considering to find out how well the program is supported if and when there is a problem.

Price
Always consider your department’s budget when specking out an ePCR program. What will the monthly usage fees be? If the program is cloud/Internet based are there additional data storage fees?

If you like whistles and bells such as EKG tie-ins, CAD interfaces, supply tracking and things like that, will the ePCR company charge additional fees for not only the implementation but will that tack on additional support fees, etc.?

Be sure to ask how long the current fees quoted will be in place. Is there a contract that you sign that lays out the fees and how and when the company can change those fees?

Also consider, depending on how you intend to implement the program in the field, what hardware will be required, such as mobile devices, rugged laptops, protection plans, etc.  Will you need to purchase mobile hot spots for the ambulance vehicles? Does your Internet link at the station provide you with enough bandwidth for you to adequately work with an online program.

And, will the ePCR program you finally decide upon using require any stationary infrastructure such as servers, desktop units, hard-wired interfaces, and so forth?

Ability to Connect to Others
Since this is a blog space written on behalf of an ambulance billing company, our wish list includes the ability to import/export data to the billing platform.

Will your billing office be able to access information, preferably in batches, via a secure FTP or some other type of secure transfer method? Will that access be password protected and properly encrypted to prevent a HIPAA breach?

Is the program you’re considering using approved by your State’s EMS office? Will the program allow you to report information/data to the State as required? Is the program NEMSIS compliant and has it been updated to the latest NEMSIS version?

Happy Shopping!
We’ve provided you with three criteria to consider when shopping for a new ePCR program. You’ll probably think of a few things yourself that interest you, but pretty much all considerations fall under these three bullet points.

Touch base with your billing office for guidance. Most EMS billing offices are informed about ePCR programs due to the fact that we interact with various programs in order to obtain trip data for billing.

Current Enhanced clients can contact your Client Services representative any day, either via phone, Live Chat or by e-mail. So, don’t hesitate to contact us if you’ve reached an impasse and need some guidance while selecting a new program.

If you’re billing office isn’t helping out, let Enhanced help when you become a client. We provide insights into a number of EMS-related issues (this blog is a good example of one of the forms of communication with our clients.)

Connect with Enhanced today by contacting Chuck Humphrey via our website at www.enhancedms.com, by calling toll-free (800) 369-7544, Extension 108 or by e-mail to chumphrey@enhancedms.com.

Happy shopping!
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