Faster patient care: New system lets Butler County first responders update hospitals quicker

Premier Health is partnering with EMS agencies across Southwest Ohio to relay patient information more rapidly between hospitals and first responders.

The health system is the first in the region to roll out the new interface, which allows first responders to directly enter medical information collected in the field or during transport into a patient’s electronic medical record.

Dr. Jill Aston, emergency medicine physician and director of Atrium Medical Center’s Level III Emergency Trauma Center, told this news outlet that the information first responders gather in the field and their associated treatment is “a critical piece of information” for emergency department physicians.

“In the past, what we’ve done is communicate face-to-face or via phone prior to the patient’s arrival but now we have the ability to integrate that data in the patient’s medical records,” Aston said, noting that old system typically involved “a bit of a delay” in relaying printed medial reports.

“(The new interface’s information is) retrievable by any of the providers involved with that patient’s care throughout their care stay or even in the future.”

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The new interface not only enhances emergency care for patients and ensure quicker handoffs for emergency crews and caregivers at the hospital but encourages collaborating, data gathering and “improved communication all-around,” officials said.

Aston said having access to that information in near-real time will help hospital clinicians improve bedside decision-making, officials said.

“Where this really improves our level of care is maybe an hour, maybe a day, maybe a week down the road, when the first responders have left the hospital, the patient is now in our care and we can retrieve that information of what medications were given and what treatment was given pre-hospital.” she said. “Anything that improves communication in a patient’s medical care in a wonderful thing and will improve medical decision-making, will create a better picture of a patient’s presentation, what is happening with them, and allow for better care.”

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Premier Health operates three hospitals: Atrium Medical Center in Middletown; Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton with additional inpatient sites in Centerville and Englewood; and Upper Valley Medical Center in Miami County.

Dozens of agencies across Premier Health’s nine-county service area will take part in a six-month pilot program, which provides an opportunity for both training of first responders and refinements to the interface between the hospital’s electronic medical records system and the agency’s documentation system.

The first group of EMS agencies in Middletown, Brookville, Monroe, New Jasper and Tipp City started the week of Jan. 28.

Middletown Fire Department Capt. Steve Ludwig said going electronic when it comes to medical record reports is “a big convenience,” one that helps eliminate prior issues of printed copies of a report getting lost in the three days it took for them to be scanned in and attached to a patient’s care report.

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EMS personnel now fill out EPCRs — Electronic Patient Care Report forms — after a face-to-face handoff of information, with data being uploaded to the cloud and electronically transferred and attached to a care report.

“It’s very simply, very user-friendly,” Ludwig said.

Additional groups will begin interfacing their records as soon as technical requirements are finalized. The interface is available at all Premier Health emergency departments.

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First responders often treat and transport patients without ever knowing the outcome of their efforts, Ludwig said.

“Now we have the ability to look at what happened post-care once we dropped them off, so we can enhance our educational aspect of what we do for our guys,” he said “ It does have the benefit to have the ability to allow us to be better prepared in the field and potentially save more lives.”

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