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Electronic Patient Report Form system live across New Zealand ambulance services

Thursday, 12 April 2018   (0 Comments)
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PICTURE: Wellington Free Ambulance relationship and development manager and paramedic Vanessa Simpson using ePRF on a tablet.


eHealthNews editor Rebecca McBeth


With ambulance staff nationwide now using the same ePRF, paramedics can access patient information from previous call-outs, no matter where in the country they occurred.


All New Zealand ambulance staff are using a single electronic patient report form to record patient information after Wellington Free Ambulance went live with ePRF last month.


The ePRF allows frontline staff to enter patient details into a structured electronic form using a tablet device, rather than having to handwrite notes.


WFA went live with ePRF on 6 March. St John has been live with the system for more than two years following a nationwide roll-out over three months, starting in October 2015.


Now that Wellington is on board, the entire country is covered by the same electronic patient assessment information system and more than one million ePRFs have been completed nationwide over the past two and a half years.


WFA relationship and development manager Vanessa Simpson says having all ambulance services using the same system benefits patients, as paramedics can see what happened on previous call-outs, no matter where the patient is nationwide.


The Wellington roll-out went very smoothly, helped by the support and learning from St John’s previous go-lives.


More than 100 front-line staff have been trained, as well as volunteers and staff within the Patient Transfer Service.


Simpson says staff like the structured nature of the e-form, which includes drop-down boxes and provides safety alerts, such as if a medication dosage is outside recommended guidelines.


“It’s more timely patient information and it’s concise, accurate and legible,” says Simpson.


The ePRF is printed off in emergency departments and presented as an ambulance-care summary.


Simpson says the handover time in hospital has increased in the short-term as staff get used to the new system, but results from St John indicate that the electronic process will ultimately reduce handover times by around 10 minutes.


This will be further reduced when the electronic form can be pushed directly into a hospital’s clinical workstation.


The ePRF is also connected to the National Health Index.


Ambulance staff use a trusted source of information to find a patient’s NHI number, such as a hospital discharge letter, or can look the number up and pull down the patient’s date of birth and address into the electronic form.


When the ambulance services become trusted users of the NHI database, the system will be able to pull through some clinical information as well.


St John ePRF project manager Chris Laufale says plans are in place to start pushing ePRF information to district health boards and GPs electronically, and that within a year St John hopes to be able to pull clinical information down via the NHI.


The point at which ambulance staff can view clinical information, such as a patient’s previous ECG, and have discussions based on this information in a patient’s home is the “nirvana”, he says.


The ePRF system is provided by Valentia Technologies and tailored to reflect the needs of New Zealand’s ambulance services.


Laufale says the electronic system has improved clinical care, auditing processes and changed the way the service looks at resourcing, such as helicopter deployments.


St John was able to apply everything it had learned over the past few years to help ensure a smooth implementation in Wellington.


Simpson adds that the possibilities for understanding and improving the WFA service are “boundless” with so much data now being collected electronically.


“We will have so much information available at the push of a button, it’s going to really change things,” she says.


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