Located in the Western Pacific, Guam is a 209-square-mile island that has been part of the United States since 1898. As an unincorporated U.S. territory, its population of 162,000 are U.S. citizens and the island is governed by a civilian government with its own executive, judicial and legislative branches. Along with a large U.S. military presence, its economy is driven by tourism from Asia, with visitors drawn to the island's tropical beauty, unique history and culture.
In 2012, the Guam Fire Department began to bill for ambulance transports. This move provided the department with badly needed funding to invest back into providing better service to the community, but also required the agency move beyond its pen-and-paper record-keeping tradition and digitize its patient care reporting system.
To do this, they needed mobile technology that was not only powerful and capable, but highly dependable on an island where heavy rains, saltwater spray, sand and extreme heat are a constant threat, and typhoons and earthquakes are not uncommon. The answer? Panasonic TOUGHBOOK® laptops.
Find a dependable mobile technology platform for Guam Fire Department emergency responders to use in completing patient care reports and improving record-keeping.
The Guam Fire Department selected Panasonic TOUGHBOOK® 19 convertible laptops – Windows-powered and fully rugged to withstand Guam's extreme tropical weather. After several years using TOUGHBOOK laptops, the agency recently invested in Panasonic TOUGHPAD® FZ-G1 rugged tablets.
Not only are patient care records more accurate and first responders more efficient, but with the Panasonic rugged devices deployed in each ambulance, the agency is now able to digitally bill patients for ambulance services for the first time in its history.
"We looked at other options but they just didn't have the capabilities we needed," said Assistant Fire Chief Daren Burrier. "Having the ruggedness matters. We've had runs in the rain, at the beach, near the water and everything in-between."
With Panasonic TOUGHBOOK 19 rugged convertible laptops in each of their ambulances, the agency has been able to greatly increase its efficiency and level of service to the community, Burrier added.
"What ended up happening is that our documentation started to improve, and more accurate patient records lead to better patient care," he said. He added that the computers also streamlined the agency's quality assurance (QA) process, and allowed them to get up-to-date on data collection and submission at the national level, making them eligible for more federal grants.
Transition to Tablets
With the agency's positive experience with Panasonic TOUGHBOOK in mind, they recently decided to upgrade their technology by investing in Panasonic TOUGHPAD® FZ-G1 rugged tablets. Running Windows with a lightweight build, 10-point touchscreen, integrated mobile broadband connectivity and enterprise-grade battery plus a bridge battery, the rugged tablets were the ideal tool to take the island's first responders productivity to the next level, Burrier said.
Again, the agency looked at several options, but "hands down, Panasonic was the best fit for us," he said. "Apple and Android tablets look inviting, but they're limited. You have to put them in rugged housings, and we didn't feel the longevity was going to be there."
With the TOUGHPAD tablets, emergency responders can more efficiently complete patient records, communicate and access information. They can also utilize satellite GPS, capture photos to attach to patient care reports, and capture patient and doctor signatures – all from a single, HIPAA-compliant device. The agency will soon deploy additional TOUGHPAD tablets for fire inspections, building plan reviews and issuing citations.
"Before, it was just a dream to have a computer at every station," Burrier said. "But with these Panasonic tablets it's becoming a reality, and now by the end of the year, the entire department will be digital. It's made us a lot more efficient in doing our job and collecting the necessary fees for doing that job, which we can put back into the system to provide the community with the best service possible."