As students return to campus this fall and some of them inevitably become injured or ill, Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service will be filling out the paperwork a little differently this year – without the paper.
GERMS transferred their patient care reports from paper forms to an electronic system this summer. According to the GERMS blog, GERMS has answered 100 calls and saved about $99 in paper and printing costs as of Aug. 21.
The system was first tested in May. GERMS president Colin Brody (COL ’11) said that the summer interim proved beneficial for working out the kinks.
Part of the reason for the switch was the upcoming change in emergency medical service requirements. Beginning in January 2011, the D.C. Department of Health will require that all EMS have electronic patient care reports for the purpose of ensuring a high quality of care, as well as for compiling statistics.
“We wanted to make sure we were good and ready to export [data] as soon as they said, `Hit the switch,'” Brody said.
With the new system, GERMS will be better able to identify the types of patients they typically receive while being able to easily export information to assist in national research and reports on EMS response times.
GERMS Captain Brendan Maggiore (MSB ’11), who oversees all patient records, said that the system provides for more immediate feedback on the crew’s documentation practices.
Regarding tangible differences when GERMS arrives on the scene, Maggiore said there are a few new steps. Patients will notice GERMS using laptops on-scene and type details rather than write them down by hand. Waivers will now be signed on a computer screen rather than on paper.
One constant, however, is the continued confidentiality for patients. No one can access someone’s patient records at will. The policy continues as it was before.
The idea for the change originated from a few past board members after they saw the electronic PCRs used by The George Washington University’s student EMS when the Georgetown and GWU crews rode together in ambulances for President Obama’s inauguration.
For the students, however, it’s all about the end result.
“I appreciate the services that GERMS provides for the Georgetown community, and I am impressed by the fact that they continue to seek out improvements,” Kelsey Tom (MSB ’11) said.