Contact: Collette DuValle, 317-373-2391

Marion and Hamilton County EMS and Fire Agencies First in the World to Utilize Medical Record Technology in Emergency Vehicles

Wishard ambulances along with Marion and Hamilton County fire department ambulances to be equipped with groundbreaking electronic medical record capabilities.

Starting this month Wishard Health Services' fleet of 25 ambulances will be the first emergency medical services (EMS) agency to be equipped with new electronic medical record technology that will allow paramedics and emergency medical technicians the ability to obtain vital patient health history by accessing their hospital medical records. This technology, the first of its kind in the world and developed by researchers from the Regenstrief Institute in collaboration with the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Wishard Ambulance Service and MedUSA Corporation, will link both the Regenstrief Medical Records System (RMRS) and the Indy Patient Care Records (PCR) database.

"Electronic medical record technology has been widely recognized for its role in improving quality of care, increasing efficiency of healthcare delivery, preventing medical errors and enhancing patient safety," said Dr. John T. (JT) Finnell, associate professor of emergency medicine and director, informatics division, IU School of Medicine; and research scientist at Regenstrief Institute. Finnell, also an emergency medicine physician at Wishard, said expanding this technology to ambulances will greatly improve speed and efficiency of care. "Bottom line, we are the only place in the country that is able to push healthcare data to medics in real time, which can impact the pre-hospital care provided," he explained.

During the past three and a half decades, Regenstrief Institute research scientists have been developing the RMRS technology. Today, in addition to being a critical research tool, RMRS is the nation's only citywide electronic medical records system, which serves as the day-to-day electronic medical records system at several local hospitals and allows emergency physicians, with the patient's permission, to view as a single virtual record all previous care at any of the participating hospitals.

"This significant advance in using health information technology to improve patient care is possible because of Wishard's strong and longtime partnerships with the IU School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute," said Dr. Lisa E. Harris, chief executive officer and medical director for Wishard Health Services.

This is not the first time the Wishard Ambulance Service has been at the forefront of communication technology. In 1943, Wishard (then City Hospital) became the first hospital in the country to use two-way radio communication to coordinate ambulance dispatch. This pioneering communication tool made it possible for the hospital's ambulances to alert the receiving ward about the patient's illness or injury en route, improving patient care.

"This system will offer yet another important tool for our first responders when arriving on the scene of an emergency. Quick medical action is essential and it is extremely important for doctors, nurses and paramedics to have as much key information about a patient's medical history as possible," said Charles E. Ford, associate vice president for emergency preparedness, protection and response, Wishard Health Services. Funds for the new technology are being provided through a grant from the Urban Area Security Initiative.

Wishard is home to one of the oldest and largest hospital-based ambulance services in the United States. The Wishard Ambulance Service provides the 911 emergency ambulance services to the city of Indianapolis and Decatur Township as well as the town of Speedway and the city of Beech Grove. It staffs a fleet of 25 advanced life-support ambulances that are strategically placed throughout Marion County, 18 of which are in operation at any given time and respond to nearly 70,000 calls for help annually.

Regenstrief Institute, Inc., an internationally recognized informatics and healthcare research organization, is dedicated to the improvement of health through research that enhances the quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare. Established in 1969 by philanthropist Sam Regenstrief on the campus of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, the Institute is supported by the Regenstrief Foundation and is closely affiliated with the IU School of Medicine and the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County.

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