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Lake Tahoe Fire Dept. Testing Electronic Medical Records System


Paramedics in South Lake Tahoe are beta testing private company software to comply with a federal mandate to store patient records electronically next year. Capital Public Radio’s Ky Plaskon reports.

Tahoe Paramedics are rushing to take a heart attack patient to the hospital. Paramedic Mike Mileski enters information in a tablet computer while they drive.

“We just go in here, plug in our times, basically documenting what proceedures we did, what we found," Mileski says.

Three years ago, the department quietly started testing this program called IPCR. Usually it would cost $60,000, but they got it for free to test it. This month, they went public. Captain Martin Creel says it works. 

“We are still developing new parts of it. We are reducing redundancy and saving paper," Creel says.

Reports are electronically transferred to the hospital, county and station. That saves 20 minutes per report and that cuts down on overtime. Also, doctors have information faster.

“We were for a long time reporting on basically two or three different reporting systems, because you have to have a paper one for the county and electronic one for the station and there are just all these different scenarios and the hospital needs a copy too." -- Creel.

Creel says the new electronic system saves 20 minutes per call, provides doctors with more complete information and the information follows the patients wherever they go. One problem is that all the computers from emergency dispatch to hospitals don’t have compatible software.

South Lake Tahoe is complying with federal law, a year ahead of schedule.

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