EMS documentation: The unique needs of the Community Paramedicine Program

When starting a community paramedicine program, documentation is a common hurdle. EMS organizations often realize that their current ePCR system doesn’t gel with mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine (MIH-CP). But why is the ePCR inadequate? Don’t get us wrong. There are some tremendous ePCRs out there, for instance, ESO. However, they just aren’t built for MIH-CP programs. So what can programs do to improve reporting in an MIH-CP setting? 

It’s the providers’ job to record their interaction with the patient clearly and accurately. However, documentation should be more than a stagnant record. It should be included in the patient’s running healthcare chart, so EMS providers have streamlined access. Also, you should be able to safely share patient records with other members of the community, like doctors or mental health professionals.

Another designation of documentation is data collection. Collecting good data for your EMS company is essential to overcoming problems and securing funding for the future. 

If you’re trying to secure contracts or apply for grants for your MIH-CP program, potential partners will ask to see the hard data that proves your program is working. 

So, providing an efficient patient care record and precise data on the efficacy of your community paramedic program is essential. 

What is the Best Form of Documentation for Ambulance Companies with a Community Paramedic Program? 

First, let’s explore the current form of ambulance documentation. 

You may wonder: What’s wrong with my current documentation platform? Why won’t it work for community paramedicine? It might work; however, it probably won’t work as well as a program streamlined for the MIH-CP industry. 

It might be possible to swim across the English Channel, but it’s much easier to use a boat. 

The current model for EMS is the ePCR, or electronic patient care reports. ePCRs work great for day-to-day 911 calls, but they fall short when applied to a community paramedicine program. 

Here’s why: 

  1. PCRs are a snapshot. If you were trying to research a new city, would you rather see a single picture or watch a whole documentary? The PCR is like a picture. And while pictures are helpful, they aren’t as beneficial as a more in-depth recording. This is because a PCR only provides one look at the patient’s health. 
  2. PCRs are less useful for primary care. PCRs are sent to other health providers. However, aside from billing departments, they are often regarded as “more paper.” Doctors in the emergency department already heard reports from the crew. The PCR is a good record, but it doesn’t tell providers the whole story. It’s a snippet of the patient’s life.
  3. PCRs are designed for 911 calls. Therefore, PCRs are an excellent tool for daily ambulance runs. However, most platforms weren’t designed with MIH-CP in mind. As a result, the reports fail to show the broader focus required for non-emergency patients.
  4. It’s hard to show trends. When you have a disjointed care record, it’s harder to prove your program is working. For instance, maybe a patient has experienced fewer diabetic emergencies since enrolling in a community paramedic program. That’s excellent, but if it isn’t visible in the record, you can’t relay that information when it’s time to expand or seek more funding. 

PCRs are remarkable for their purpose; they just aren’t the tool MIH-CP needs. In the sections below, we will discuss the unique needs of a community paramedicine program.

How Documentation and Data Collection is Different for Community Paramedicine Programs

Community paramedicine differs in many ways from regular ambulance runs. Community paramedics seek to form a relationship with their patients and provide care that responds to their present and long-term needs. 

Here are several ways community paramedicine documentation is different: 

  • Trends. You must look at the patient over time, not as a snapshot. 
  • Shareability. Bringing other authorized professionals on board by safely and securely transferring patient records. 
  • Compatibility. Easy viewing across systems. Regardless of the programs you or the hospital uses, you want a system that allows you both to view the patient record.

Let’s look at these in more depth. 

Why Patient Trends are Important in Long Term Care 

Trending works on multiple levels. For example, when a physician is treating a patient in the ICU, they look at their vital signs before making treatment decisions. First, however, providers typically look at how the vitals are trending.

Has the blood pressure been consistently low? Or was the reading inaccurate? After answering those questions, they decide on appropriate treatment. Most agree it would be a mistake to treat someone without looking at their history. 

When it comes to mobile integrated healthcare, paramedics and EMTs are no longer just providing care in the moment, which is common in emergency care. Instead, they focus on caring for the patient holistically, in a comparable model to nursing.  

Aside from patient care, let’s discuss several ways trending helps patient care. 

  1. Allocating resources. If an elderly patient falls, a crew might call senior services and ask them to install railings and ramps around the patient’s property. The patient may indeed need railings. However, if this was the only time the patient has fallen in the past year, then perhaps they aren’t the top candidate for rails and ramps. It could be that a different patient needs railings. Crews would never know this unless the community had good information and documents to see the patient’s health record. 
  2. Trends show improvement. Potential donors will be curious about how well your program works if you’re trying to secure funding sources. While it’s great to tell people that your program is working, if you can pull up charts with hard data showing that your community paramedic program is working, then your requests for funding and partnership will be more persuasive. 
  3. Finally, trends show declines. If you have many patients who need your services, you’ll need to decide how to allocate your resources. By recording the recent trend in the patient’s condition, you will make an appropriate decision regarding who needs MIH-CP the most. 

Now, let’s talk about shareability. 

Why a Community Paramedicine Progam needs shareable documentation 

When an ambulance responds to a 911 call, they have an important end goal: stabilize the patient, and transport them to the emergency room if required. 

However, the community paramedic has a different goal. If they respond to a non-emergency, they may consider an alternative transport destination, like urgent care, a detox center, or community mental health. As a result, the community paramedic needs to communicate with considerably more people than a typical ambulance crew. 

Most ePCRs are sent to the ER after the 911 call. But what about the documentation for patients who don’t go to the ER? 

Most providers, such as physicians or detox professionals, want the patient’s complete record, not just a snapshot of the event. Also, mobile integrated healthcare professionals in the field need to look at the full record, as a complete health picture will guide treatment and transport decisions. 

Shareability works both ways. From the community paramedics to physicians, and back again. 

Compatibility for EMS Documentation

Interoperable: this is a term that refers to software that doesn’t need everyone on the same system. For example, most hospitals use specific patient charting software. However, it’s unlikely that all local EMS agencies use the same software. So, how do they communicate?

Some software rises above this hurdle – this is what is called interoperable systems.

Compatible, interoperable software is a great way to acquire new partners in your community paramedic program. 

When you start to discuss documentation with partners, they will naturally wonder if this means they need to install and maintain a whole new system. To this, you can confidently respond that your interoperable software will safely share information regardless of the organization’s current platform. 

Prioritizing good documentation can’t be overstated. In fact, the national association of emergency medical technicians lists data collection as one of the top three pillars to a successful MIH community paramedic program

Julota Provides Top-Notch Documentation for The Community Paramedicine Program

Julota provides cutting-edge EMS software designed specifically with mobile integrated healthcare in mind. This system is here to give you a simple, no-headache option for your documentation. Most importantly, this interoperable software can interface directly with your ePCR if they allow it.

Using Julota will improve the efficiency of your community paramedicine program, secure better partnerships, and improve funding. 

Here’s how: 

  1. Julota is a full patient record. Unlike the snapshots we discussed earlier, Julota provides a complete map of patient care. This allows you to watch the trends of your patient and move resources to the area of greatest need. 
  2. Julota is safe. Julota complies with all major patient privacy bodies, including HIPPA, SAMHSA CFR 42, and CJIS. This is a game-changer for patients and providers. When professionals can safely talk with each other, they can efficiently provide patient care and prevent conflict. 
  3. Julota crosses barriers. Even if you and the hospital or doctor’s office use different charting systems, Julota’s interoperable platform rises above this and lets you safely share information. 
  4. Julota shows the data. When you’re looking for more funding, be it partnerships or applying for grants, Julota lets you easily demonstrate your work. 70% of programs that work with Julota have a substantially larger budget within three years of implementing the Julota platform. Instead of just telling people about the extraordinary work your program is doing, you can quietly prove that your program is working and should be continued. 

Contact Julota for a clear and fast demonstration. Julota’s team of professionals is ready to show you how to improve your MIH-CP with cutting-edge software and precise documentation.