Queensland’s Ambulance Service hopes to have 3700 of its paramedics and executives equipped with iPads by the beginning of next year.
Following in the footsteps of its emergency services stablemates in the Queensland Police force, the QAS plans to kit out all 3500 paramedics and 200 executives and supervisors with the tablets.
“Paramedics are a special class of worker in that they spend only a small part of their day at their desk,” QAS Superintendent Sean Mutchmor told iTnews.
“We are essentially aiming to provide our staff with a mobile office.”
The agency has been given the green light to proceed with the organisation-wide rollout, which Mutchmor argued would have happened regardless of the work being done in parallel by the QPS.
“We already had the mechanics behind this started when the police announced their own rollout. But their public success certainly doesn’t hurt,” he said.
Roughly 100 of the Apple iPad Airs will be circulated this month to a cross-section of the workforce - from IT-savvy graduates to long serving officers - in an effort to iron out any usability bugs before the project hits its stride.
The team tried out standard iPads plus a range of Android devices before settling on the lightest Apple tablet.
The first application that will be made available, Mutchmor told iTnews, will be the agency’s clinical practice manual, followed closely by the eLearning modules of ongoing academic training to keep the state’s ambos up to speed with medical and policy developments.
The next major capability enhancement will arrive sometime in 2015, when a new electronic Ambulance Reporting Form (eARF) comes online.
A prototype eARF has already been developed by QAS partner dbXpress, based on the VACIS system used by the state’s paramedics to communicate patient information to and from receiving health facilities.
The QAS has recently approached the market for feedback on the viability of the streamlined application – which it believes is far more user friendly than its desktop-based predecessor – and to find a company that can put it into production.
One of the major advantages the iPad will have over the Panasonic toughbooks already installed in the state’s ambulances will be to bring training to the field.
“It will mean paramedics have a real-time training application at their fingertips,” Mutchmor said.
“For a paramedic the training is quite continual. We quite regularly implement new processes and procedures whether they’re around pharmacology or other treatments.”
From a state-wide communications perspective, the deployment will mean urgent messages can be sent out to paramedics immediately – rather than executive staff hoping the officers will read their emails at some point in the day.