Oak Tree Reliance Limited (OTR Ltd) is a successful ambulance service and medical courier. It expects to see further growth in 2022. OTR Ltd has created consistent expansion, changed premises and always seeks to improve its service. Managing CEO Claire Mohamed recognised that the right software package would be a vital factor to taking on further jobs, and after careful research made the decision to work with Apex Networks Patient Transport Software (Apex PTS).
A specialist need
The movement of vulnerable people involves the management of sensitive and changing demands, so it is crucial that operations are smooth, precise and reliable. As OTR Ltd grew, it was clear that its software needed to change. What Claire really liked was that Apex was very responsive to her requests and ideas. “The old system, a taxi dispatch system, was just not working for us at all,” Claire explains. “The person who developed it would not take on board any ideas and felt it was fine the way it was; It just wasn’t.
Value for money
New software can’t fuel expansion alone. However, Claire believes that Apex PTS has made everyday jobs easier and has provided a good return. While Apex is more expensive than the company’s previous system, Claire suggests that the numerous additional facilities they gained made it worth it. “What you get with Apex PTS is good value for money. For the price, I would probably say that the old system was too expensive for what we actually got from it. We do pay more, but we get what we want, which is a good thing.”
“We don’t have anything on paper anymore.”
Apex’s additional features have aided positive results. Claire finds the allocation of jobs more simple now, with employees clearly understanding the different runs and patient pick-up requirements. She employs the vehicle check list, and has custom-created several forms (including the efficient reporting of incidents) that enable the ACAs to carry out their job easily and efficiently while on the road. In particular, the software has facilitated a move away from using paper, including the paper-storing folders (sleeves holding up to 70 sheets) stored in each vehicle. This has increased accuracy and removed issues associated with the transferring of handwriting. “I think we use most of the system,” Claire says. “We don’t have anything on paper anymore.”
“Care and Quality Commission visit… satisfied and really happy.”
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) expects a compliant and stringent safety and audit trail. When a visit from the CQC showed that OTR Ltd’s incumbent software didn’t meet the CQC’s demand for information, it prompted Claire’s search for more appropriate software. “Apex said that they would add the things we needed into the system – and that is what they did,” she says. “The result of our last Care and Quality Commission visit was that they were satisfied and really happy.”
The introduction of CQC-related software has also had other benefits with reports and additional data. Some development areas require further ‘tweaking’, but Claire believes that this is only to be expected, and that overall the process has been successful. She says, “Whenever I ask for something, it gets looked at and action is done as soon as possible.”
OTR Ltd’s steady growth has meant more jobs and new employees. No current employee has previous experience of their old system, but each has received full training on the new Apex software. “From day one they start with the new system,” Claire explains. “They learn it during their induction period and during their training. They are then on the road and on the go.” Overall, Claire feels that they pick it up well during training, with positive feedback including that it is ‘intuitive and easy to use’.
“The facility helps us keep accurately up to date…”
Apex software includes an HR ‘button’ that enables bespoke training to be added. Previously, OTR Ltd used a matrix on an Excel spreadsheet to record employee training; this was updated and checked weekly to ensure that everyone was compliant. Today, a simple colour coded system automatically updates information, and Claire gets a comprehensive overview from just one sheet. In fact, any patient transfer company can incorporate specific courses and training into the software. “You add your own courses, and the date they completed it and the expiry date/refresher due date, and add it to the file of each person,” Claire explains. “The facility helps us accurately keep up to date, and see when employees have special training requirements that others do not.”
Working with a software company that listens – and responds
Patient transportation companies often have specialist operations, and individual features can be added. OTR Ltd and the Apex development team communicate regularly to ensure that a new aspect of the software works, and Claire appreciates that this can take time. “When there is an important feature that we need to have, the Apex development team will look at it,” she says. This has included the function to import jobs through a CSV file; previously each job was manually imported, which was inefficient and time consuming.
OTR Ltd plans to increase its responder work, and as a recently trained responder, Claire can pinpoint where some software changes could be helpful. “Apex are going to look into it and try to make it more individualised,” Claire says, “so for any [company] doing responder work, it is going to work for everyone.”
And this reflects exactly how Apex likes to work: software is never ‘set in stone’, but evolves to reflect client needs, with Apex updating its cloud-based software at least four times per year. OTR Ltd is already liaising with Apex’s development team on new ideas; other patient transportation companies will no doubt benefit from the additions.