St John is poised to roll out new technology that will facilitate world-first communication between paramedics and GPs, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.
Handheld tablet devices will soon replace the four carbon copies of paperwork used by paramedics in the field. The upgrade would mean crews could forward patient information electronically to an emergency department while on the road.
Ambulance crews could send photos of injuries to specialists for advice, such as patients trapped in car accidents, and in a world-first move, GPs would be sent a summary of their patient's ambulance callouts, Mr Ryall said.
The Doctors, Napier practice & nurse manager Lee Allsop said the new technology would "join the dots" between health providers.
"Any additional communication between providers is always beneficial to patients," Ms Allsop said. "Currently, we don't know if a patient has gone to hospital by ambulance until after they've been discharged.
"With this new system, we'd know the patient had gone to hospital and might be able to contribute information."
Mrs Allsop said this increased communication would give "a better overall picture of the care of a patient".
Previously, some GPs never knew that their patients were calling an ambulance, Mr Ryall said. In one case, a patient called an ambulance about medication eight times before the patient's GP was finally notified and made a minor change, which stopped the calls.
"This is significant when you consider that nearly 20 per cent of ambulance callouts are for high users with four or more callouts a year."
Mr Ryall said the new exchange of information between St John's paramedics and GPs would mean a decreased workload, faster turnaround and increased availability.
The Government was allocating $2.5 million towards the development of the devices with ACC contributing $500,000, and the Ministry of Health contributing the remainder. St John will pilot devices from mid-May, followed by a phased rollout from the end of the year.