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Oregon now requires EMS agencies to use electronic system


The Oregon Health Authority said Tuesday it is helping ambulance service agencies comply with a new state law requiring they use electronic patient care reporting, which will streamline how they exchange information with hospital emergency departments and other health care partners.

Oregon Senate Bill 52, passed during the 2017 legislative session, mandates that transporting emergency medical services (EMS) agencies begin posting patient care reports electronically to a statewide database starting Jan. 1, 2019.

OHA offers access to Oregon EMS Information System (OR-EMSIS) at no cost to all EMS agencies, regardless of what vendor an agency uses locally to gather and submit the patient care data. OHA’s free service includes use of a software program called ImageTrend Elite.

“This system effectively replaces the old paper system using clipboards and pens, that once was the predominant form of patient care reporting,” said David Lehrfeld, MD, medical director for the EMS Program at the OHA Public Health Division. “Incorporating smart tablets that most people are already familiar with, this system is so much faster, so much more efficient, and will improve patient care and health outcomes.”

EMS agencies simply choose their preferred software vendors–more than 40 are available–and work with OHA to test the product. They then run through a checklist for transitioning to the new system.

When contact with a patient is made during a call, EMS personnel log in to the system using a tablet device and create an electronic patient care record, which charts the patient’s assessment and care. Each piece of patient data is securely submitted to the hospital receiving the patient, as well as to OHA, which uses the information to assess clinical performance, quality improvement and effects of prehospital medical care.

More than half of Oregon EMS transport agencies (73 out of 136) have moved to the new data standard as of Dec. 31, with one in five Oregon agencies transitioning in 2018 (27 transport agencies). The remainder of agencies have been granted waivers to begin submitting data later in 2019. Visit and look for “Agency Status” to see overall transition status of EMS transport agencies, along with the names of agencies and vendors who have achieved live status.

Drew Norris, deputy chief of EMS at Bend Fire & Rescue, said the system has improved patient calls “a ton.”

“We couldn’t turn back now, now that we’re on this electronic patient care reporting system,” Norris said. “It helps us get information to the hospitals. We’re able to post in the back of the ambulance to (ImageTrend) Hospital Hub, which is at each hospital, and give them information they need to help treat the patient sooner and more effectively once we get to the hospital.”

Sherry Bensema, EMS coordinator at Lyons Rural Fire District and Ambulance Service, said the system has allowed her agency to be more responsive to the community’s needs–now and in the future.

“We know we have a 7.5 percent increase in call volume this year because of the reports that I can run,” Bensema said. “And then the dashboard in the product actually lets me spool up a unique report so I can actually see trends on my dashboard that I need to track on a monthly basis.”

Kristy Carey, administrative specialist at Bend Fire & Rescue, likes that the system is user-friendly and customizable. “Once we got the crews on board and using it, after maybe a month, six weeks, they were like ‘Why didn’t we do this sooner?'”

For more information on the new system:

OHA’s OR-EMSIS page: Frequently asked questions: OR-EMSIS data transfer graphic:

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