Ambulance health care records now being shared online

Posted at: 02/19/2013 5:00 PM
Updated at: 02/19/2013 5:45 PM
By: Ray Levato

Health care providers have joined forces with emergency responders to make your health information available in a way that's never been done before. Ambulance health care records can now be shared online in a 13-county network that includes more than 850,000 people around the Rochester area.

What used to be part of a paper trail is now available at the click of a button, connecting the information an ambulance crew learns about you, with the doctors who will be treating you.

If you're transported to the emergency department, by law, the ambulance service has to provide your medical information of that call to the emergency room doctors. And now that information is available instantly to anyone on the local hospital and doctors' network. The local organization that makes this possible says it allows a patient's medical information to follow that patient.

Ted Kremer, Executive Director, Rochester Health Information Organization, said, “Up to this time, a lot of the emergency medical information didn't actually work its way through the health care system. So where it may have gone to the emergency department, your primary care physician may not actually know that you were transported to an emergency room recently.”

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “So what is the benefit to the patient then?

Kremer said, “The benefit to the patient is improved care. For their physicians to treat you, they really need to know what's going on.”

Using a made up patient record, Joe DiPiazza showed us what it would look like to a doctor, once the information is entered into the system by the ambulance crew. Whether the patient is transported to a hospital or not, the ambulance visit is recorded in what's called an electronic pre-hospital document and it becomes part of the patient's health record.

Joe DiPiazza, senior coordinator, said, “This is the summary page of a patient's record. This is what the doctors sees first when they log in. When the user clicks on the electronic pre-hospital document, you'll be able to see the result generated by the ambulance crew during that 911 call.”

Patients still have the right to privacy. They don't have to sign a consent form if they don't want to.

Levato said, “Is there a health consequence to not sharing the information?”

Kremer said, “I would like to think that physicians can provide better care more efficiently if they know more of what's going on with the patient.”

Why is this a good thing? Here's an example. The emergency room doctor could find out that you've already had a CAT scan or a specific x-ray. That would save time and money.   
The Rochester Health Information Organization is a non-profit agency that is supported by area hospitals, health plans, doctors and employers. 18 ambulance companies are connected to this network, but about 50 have yet to join. Those 50 are mostly in rural areas where ambulances don't have the benefit of laptops on board.