Paramedics at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust are using iPads to complete electronic forms to add to the patient’s record.

The trust is working with software supplier Kainos to develop a version of its Evolve patient record software for ambulance care and has given five ‘super users’ in Thanet access to the tool on the Apple tablet as part of a ‘soft launch’ phase for patients not requiring transportation to hospital.

In a comment to Digital Health News, Karen Mann, IT development project manager at SECAmb, said that these five paramedics have been using the system for patients discharged or referred from care since 17 October.

In its December newsletter, the trust writes that the paramedics involved in the pilot first completed a paper patient clinical record form and then input the data electronically into the iPad application to ensure the safety of the information.

Confidence has since grown in the new system and now all information held on the trust’s paper form has been transferred over into Evolve. Mike Earl, one of the five super users, said: “It has been very stable, with a good number of successful submissions, which is great.”

He added: “For the patient, the experience is no different other than they have to sign their name on the iPad screen. As this is done with the patient’s finger and not with a pen some patients have been a little unsure. However, once I demonstrate how it is done, it is fine and everyone I’ve been out to thinks that this is a really good feature.”

Earl also said that the use of electronic forms means he doesn’t accidentally miss out on inputting important information. He said: “With the paper form you can jump all over the place but with the ePCR you are guided through and complete each relevant section before moving on to the next.

“This ensures you don’t miss anything but equally prompts you to think about things you may have overlooked, for example on the ePCR there are additional select buttons and free text fields such as ‘patient is a carer’, ‘social history’, or ‘worsening care advice’.”

SECAmb said the use of iPads has had another benefit in allowing staff to communicate with each other using instant messaging and FaceTime.

Alison Brown, operations lead for the ePCR project at SECAmb said this is one of the advantages of personally issuing devices to staff members rather than go down the route of other trusts and use tough books that are based in vehicles.

The project has yet to expand to include patients who are conveyed to hospital care, and Brown said there is a frustration in the team that the project hasn’t been able to move as quickly due to “challenging technical developments”.

She said: “It is hoped these issues can be resolved fairly quickly and if all goes well we hope to widen the super-user group and start using the ePCR application with conveyed patients very soon.”

It is the first time that Kainos, primarily an acute sector supplier, has been involved in a project in the ambulance sector. The company intends to expand its footprint further and will use the tool as the basis of an application that it will market to other ambulance services.