To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, knowledge comes from “eyes always open and hands working.” Harnessing the information acquired by fire and EMS responders for the greater benefit of the community they serve is the major chore accomplished by SafetyPAD software products.

Since the release of the first iPhone in 2007 and Android the following year, mobile technology has played a more vital role in the way EMS providers conduct their jobs. According to a June 2012 Manhattan Research/Physician Channel Adoption Study, 87 percent of doctors use these kinds of devices in the workplace. Tablet adoption is becoming more widespread in the collection of pre-hospital patient care data. It is evident that there has been an increase in mobile device use in the healthcare field.

One way to further improve healthcare is to put better technology into the hands of every paramedic and EMT who responds to scenes via 911 or industrial locations such as oil platforms or chemical manufacturing plants. One way to enhance patient care is to increase the technology investment for these providers specifically as they conduct operations during the prehospital care stage.

“Our company recently launched a full-featured ePCR platform for Android devices that allows a fully client configurable electronic patient care reporting application that is also designed for NEMSIS 3 compliance,” said Scott Streicher, chief operating officer for SafetyPAD.

“We can now give the medical providers a low cost platform and also give them quick access to a laundry list of well thought out EMS and Fire Android applications on a single device,” Streicher said.

Vendors like SafetyPAD provide a hosted environment that eliminates server costs and needed IT expertise while also ensuring HIPAA compliance by including the latest encryption technology to secure patient data over wireless connection.

“When you call 911 and the fire department, EMS or first responders begin patient care and assessment, they need to document the event,” Streicher said. “Given the surge in mobile devices in healthcare, it’s imperative to recognize the crucial role that Android mobile technology can play in the field.”

One city protected by SafetyPAD is Chicago, population 2.7 million. Responders answer more than 400,000 emergency calls a year. SafetyPAD sifts through the information, issuing notifications to other agencies based on pre-set parameters.

“Let’s say EMS responds to a large chemical plant due to some unknown hazardous materials release,” Streicher said. “EMS is going to collect data on the folks who have been exposed. At that point, the client can set SafetyPAD to send out automated alerts to the appropriate agencies.”

Depending on the nature of the release – say ammonia as opposed to acid – SafetyPAD can route the information collected by responders to the personnel and agencies best suited to deal with the emergency.

“If you have a patient who is exposed to a certain chemical, SafetyPAD notifies area hospitals and the local department of health to be ready,” Streicher said. “There are a number of things it does automatically rather than depend on the paramedic to DATA follow through.”

SafetyPAD is expanding into companies such as American Safety Services, Inc. (http://www.americansafetyservices.com/), which has been providing various safety services and equipment to the petroleum production, drilling, maintenance, manufacturing and refining industries since 1991.

Depending on the nature of the emergency, SafetyPAD can direct the responders to collect the information most appropriate under the circumstances.

“As the agency involved, you can define the rules as to what information needs to be collected,” Streicher said. “Meanwhile, the agency can also define what automatic responses should be dispatched depending on the particular event.”

 Ultimately, information compiled by SafetyPAD becomes part of the National Fire Incident Reporting System, a national database used by U.S. fire departments to report the incidents to which they respond and to maintain records of these incidents in a uniform manner.

“The parameters are simple queries just like an internet search,” Streicher said. “Agencies can look at how particular medications have an impact on patients. It can be used to compile statistics on the circumstances requiring CPR, when it was started and when it was stopped.”

 Given the surge in mobile devices in healthcare, it is imperative to recognize the crucial role that Android mobile technology can play in the field. Here are five reasons why such solutions should be the next big push in pre-hospital care.

Ease of Use

The Android operating system is one – if not the – most widely used and readily understood operating systems around the world. EMS information and data collection systems on Android tablets are incorporating the same look and feel as a smartphone, so the ease of use and acceptance is much greater. This means most EMS professionals do not have to spend additional time learning a new mobile device.

Cost Effective

 For years, state-of-the-art reporting platforms, like electronic patient care reporting systems (ePCR) on expensive rugged windows devices, were only available to larger agencies with bigger budgets. The wide selection, ease of use and low cost hardware and technology are empowering smaller agencies with the ability to explore and implement this technology. These devices range from full-rugged (half the cost of Windows) to low-cost tablet device have given agencies and EMS providers access to tools they never had before now.

Expands/Improves the EMS “Toolbox”

By implementing newer tablet-based solutions, EMS professionals have greater access to various EMS tools in a single device. For instance, the SafetyPAD for Android solution allows agencies to not only document patient data but enables them to look up patient history if certain identifying information is available to take blood pressure using Android integrated hardware, to look up medication interactions on Physician Desk Reference applications, to identify a pill taken in an overdose situation and more. Essentially, this is a comprehensive EMS library in the form of an electronic device. Reduces Hospital Turnaround Time According to the 2010 Census, nearly 60 million Americans live in rural areas. There is significant evidence that distances to regional healthcare centers in rural areas can often be great. This makes it even more essential for EMS professionals to input data that can be sent directly to the receiving hospital so patients can be tended to immediately and spend less time is spent on paperwork.

Comprehensive EMS Data Collection Individuals who have worked with paper patient care reports know that the process of transcribing data from paper reports can be time consuming and results in unreliable and inaccurate data. Mobile technology will lead to better data collection. Clear and concise information gathering and ready access allows for better performance metrics. Agencies can also improve the quality of care with an efficient business process and streamlined quality control systems. Information about quality of care and comprehensive data can also help justify grants or funding.

With incredible advances in technology related to pre-hospital medicine in the last seven years, it is important for agencies to step outside of their comfort zone and consider technology solutions that are now available. They will not only lower costs, but EMS solutions running on mobile and tablet-based such as Android devices have already begun to impact on our patients and our jobs.

A contract with SafetyPAD involves no startup or implementation fee. The only initial fee is training, Streicher said.

“The client decides if they want us to come in and train their people in person or if they want to set up web-based training,” he said. “If you have a department running 200 calls a year, the system is basically going to cost about $290 annually,” he said.

SafetyPAD can be found in use in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Miami, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Palm Beach County and numerous other places as small as 200 calls a year and as large as 400,000 calls a year.

That Emerson quote sums it up best – “knowledge is power.” SafetyPAD expands the horizons of electronic patient care reporting to include responders working in fire and emergency medical services in America. It has the potential to increase effective communication between industrial facilities and the community and healthcare networks around them to minimize risks and optimize readiness for emergency care.

 Founded in 1993, SafetyPAD is a leader in electronic patient care reporting that develops software products for the fire & EMS industry, enhancing their abilities to serve the public. With more than 20 years of developing highly successful electronic EMS informatics solutions, the company’s SafetyPAD® software and related technologies have been successfully deployed at numerous high performance fire and EMS services, including the largest EMS provider in eight of the 30 largest U.S. fire & emergency services. Scott Streicher is the Chief Operating Officer for OPEN Inc., makers of the SafetyPAD® software suite of products for fire and emergency medical services. He was also a 14-year volunteer Firefighter-EMT-I in Northern Virginia. He can be reached at [email protected].