Since the development of ARC, the Great North Air Ambulance Service’s (GNAAS) tasking system, patient care and the skillset of its clinicians has improved. But how?
Not only has Tim West been a paramedic at GNAAS for four years, he’s also played a part in the development of the software. Here, Tim gives us a little insight into ARC and how it works…
Tim, what is ARC?
Well, ARC is a software developed by GNAAS that is a complete tasking system.
This means that from getting the task or job, it will show us the location of the incident, it will tell us which hospital is closest, help us with our decision making, inform us on which aircraft to send and it also provides the patient report form.
ARC will also provide us clinicians with a retrospective audit of each job we’ve been on, which can prove important when looking back on patient care and helping us to constantly improve the level of service we’re providing.
What’s included in the patient reports?
The patient report form contains everything the clinical team has done to help that patient and their findings. This document can then be shown to the patient afterwards.
Things you can expect to find on the patient form are a full examination of the patient from arriving on scene, and any interventions we’ve carried out such as a thoracotomy.
A thoracotomy is performed when a person has a penetration injury such as a gunshot or stab wound. By making a major incision across the chest and through the muscle, and thus exposing the heart and lungs, the charity’s teams can identify the origin of the bleeding with a view to stemming the flow of blood, allowing the heart to beat again and restore circulation to the brain.
However, a thoracotomy is just one of the interventions we can do on a patient but nonetheless they’re all still recorded on the report. You will also find all of the patient’s contact details on the report as well as any ops coverage.
Ops coverage includes the time we arrived on scene to that patient, the time we left, what time we arrived at hospital, and all of their injuries.
Last but not least, patient observations are all on this report which includes things like their blood pressure. So, as you can see it practically makes up a whole system.
What came before ARC?
Before this tasking system, we used a combination of paper and records. So, this new system really is brilliant.
We realised there was a need for this system a few years back now. It started to be developed in 2015 and came into service in January 2017 – we’ve never looked back.
In terms of recording patient detail in the past, we used a paper version of the now online patient report form, and then we had a separate record for operations data.
Now, this piece of software has combined all the old systems into one bigger and better solution and it can also show us what consumable stock we have in and will let us know if we need to order more before we run out.
Is ARC helping to improve patient care, Tim?
Absolutely. In the past, if we wanted to analyse or assess if a certain intervention is benefiting the patient, we would have to spend a huge amount of time going through paperwork to look at reports and pull the data off manually to assess it.
An example of this could be whether or not a certain painkiller we have been giving patients is actually reducing their pain. If we wanted to analyse this, we would have had around 200 patient documents to go through to see if the patient reported lower pain when they had morphine for example, and then put the data into an order to look at it.
Now, ARC in itself is a database and it means we can achieve this type of audit in about 20 minutes on the computer.
ARC was set up to improve the speed and efficiency of audits as we are always trying to improve patient care as well as our skillset as clinicians, so we can be as efficient as possible when time is of the essence.
This system has massively improved patient care. Deciding to attend a job is at our discretion, but it means going forward, the data is there and saved forever so if I want to go back and see what I did on a job last year, I can and I can look to see if I could do anything better if it happened again.
Finally, is there anything else ARC can do?
Actually, yes. The software is also designed to show the drugs we have in stock in each air base. All of the drugs we use on patients have expiry dates that are logged on ARC. The software will let us know if something is running low or if a drug is about to go out of date so we can act accordingly.
This means, not only is ARC improving patient care and our clinical skillsets, but it is also improving clinical systems, too.
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