NY RHIO Brings EMRs To Ambulances

Posted on February 20, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Even with a well-connected RHIO in place, and a healthy EMR on site, most hospitals have to content with paper records when ambulances pull up to their door. But in Rochester, they’ve changed things up.

The Rochester Regional RHIO has partnered with area EMS agencies to put technology in place allowing EMS workers to securely share data with EDs or primary care doctors, reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

The RHIO itself seems to be a hit — 850,000 people, or half of the Rochester-area population, have agreed to have their records shared with authorized medical providers, the paper notes. It embraces 40 healthcare organizations in the 13-county greater Rochester area, providing links to hospitals, reference labs, radiology practices, eldercare agencies and health plans along with the ambulance teams.

To communicate patient information, the EMS workers create an “electronic pre-hospital care document” which can be uploaded to the patient’s medical record (even if the patient declines to go to the hospital). The ePCD technology is available to EMS crews for no cost.

While there’s scattered use of this approach, mobile EMR connections for EMS workers are unusual, as far as I can tell. But with mobile healthcare apps and EMR front ends growing more sophisticated every day, the time is coming soon when anyone who touches the healthcare process in any way, including EMS personnel, will have a wirelessly-enabled tablet loaded with the software they need to report on the patient.

Frankly, I’m surprised all EMS techs don’t have such a tool already. It just makes too much sense.