If you run a patient transport business, you know that accuracy and safety are not negotiable. Apex Networks Ltd has designed software to keep you on track, compliant and accountable – all at the touch of a button.
Trinity Medical Services Ltd, based in West Yorkshire, provides a range of patient services from ambulance transportation to medical cover for TV and film sets and large events. Already a strong and cohesive team, it recently made the decision to add a powerful new addition to the workforce: a piece of software designed to meet its specialist needs.
Dean Lorimer is Trinity’s Director and CQC registered manager. Until a year ago, Trinity’s resources were concentrated on events, and everything was done using pen and paper. But Dean was keen to expand Trinity’s business portfolio and made the bold business decision to move into patient transportation. Now covered by the Care and Qualities Commission (CQC) the company would face stringent requirements: a compulsory registration inspection before they could transport their first passenger, and annual inspections from then on. Biros and notepads, Dean realised, were no longer adequate. It was time to step up a gear…
Choosing a system
The CQC would need proof that Trinity was able to provide a safe and well led service. But what made Dean turn to Apex Patient Transportation Software (Apex PTS) to help secure that assurance? The answer came via a recommendation from within his own sector.
Dean explained, “I‘m a member of a few ambulance groups on Facebook and noticed someone else asking what software other companies were using. Apex was mentioned positively; I decided to get in touch and had a free trial.”
Apex PTS is built to provide complete operational control, efficiency and record keeping for your fleet, whether transporting patients or supporting events. This ensures a smooth and reliable audit trail to satisfy a complex and highly regulated industry. Although it was a considered investment decision, Dean believes that Trinity’s needs have been more than met. “It is everything we want, and everything we need,” he says. “Everything is in one place.”
No software is a magic wand that does everything for you. But Dean was very impressed with Apex’s support. This began with online training, and continued access to online videos – handy if skills need refreshing. When a new manager joined the business, Apex spent the time to get them up to speed. “I know I can pick up the phone to anyone at Apex,” asserts Dean, “and they will point me in the right direction.”
However good the software, transferring methods from manually prepared documents and spreadsheets is a big leap forwards. Trinity instantly began using the functions – firstly in preparation for the CQC registration audit. All that remains now are a few HR items – mainly needed to reduce storage of paper and improve document access to documents. “Apex can’t do any more to assist with that,” says Dean. “It’s up to you to set it up and decide what you need most; it’s your company, and every company will be different.”
Dean describes the initial set up as no more hassle than preparing a new spreadsheet – the method they were glad to be leaving behind! He is also adamant that the time taken is more than worth it: “Now things are much quicker. With Apex, once you’ve set it up, the data is always there for you.”
The flow of the business day is eased with a one stop system. Staff are able to add a job without the need to fill in a form, and handwriting is no longer an issue. Specific locations can be added directly into the Apex software, too. Now, instead of noting it on paper it goes straight to their tablets (also satnavs). At a click of a button, Dean can check on a vehicle’s MOT due date or fuel use. If a tyre needs changing, it’s size is easily accessed, cutting out search time or inaccuracies in a manual filing system.
Dean compares Trinity’s current process with past experience. “I was operations manager at another ambulance service. Their vehicles were all done on paper,” he explains. “Mistakes happened, missing scraps of paper, or something filed in the wrong place. Each day I receive Apex emails reporting on our day to day requirements: compliance, training, vehicle MOT or drug audits. If anything is not quite right, I see it before there’s a problem. Apex gives me peace of mind.”
Dean has found the training function a timesaving way to keep tabs on this essential aspect of patient transfer. He says, “Each grade of staff is assigned a training package depending on grade. Now we can quickly see who isn’t up to date, or if anything has expired. Before, we’d have to set up spreadsheet, and input the data. Apex has that data for us just to simply click yes and no. We can even upload the certificates to see them visually, without the need to access the training provider portal and downloading them.”
Listen, improve, innovate
Apex Networks Ltd is a responsive company that nourishes a 1:1 relationship with its customers. Where a benefit can be added, it adjusts and tweaks software on an almost monthly basis – and Trinity has already seen the evidence.
Drug management system
Apex added its Drug Management module six months ago. It was created following a suggestion from another patient transportation client, and Dean was instantly impressed. He said, “It helps with drug audits because we have to check our drugs are correct. Before it was all recorded on paper, with constant updating and printing off records. Now I can easily check on the quantities and movement of our drugs. The date and batch numbers are easy to cross reference with anything going out of date; and if a batch needed to be withdrawn, we can quickly access and remove it.”
Event Module and the Purple Guide
Trinity uses the Event Module to keep track of all its vehicles, whether for patients or events. Helpfully, the Purple Guide (the ‘bible’ in event medical support!) is built into the software. “We have one management system, rather than dealing with two,” says Dean. “When we take a booking, we input the details and can immediately tell the client the number of staff required and their level of qualification. It’s cutting down on masses of paperwork.”
Dean wanted to ensure vehicle checks were done thoroughly. He altered the software to mean they could not be completed in less than nine mins. “There have been a few grumbles about that,” he says with a smile, “but if something happens and we are investigated, I can prove the time was allowed. Previously staff were getting it done in maybe three minutes. This way I know there is no time pressure and they can do it properly.”
COVID-19 has highlighted issues with social distance, staff absence and isolation requirements. Dean points out that Apex PTS software will prevent any issues with this, or even unforeseen problems with their physical building: “Everything can be accessed and managed remotely or from home. We would never have to say, sorry we’re closed.”
Foundation for growth
It’s been a challenging year for businesses, and Trinity is no exception. However, Dean believes that Apex PTS software has laid a solid foundation for future growth and is positive for the future. He says, “We’ve been able to streamline our operations, which has given us more time to do other things. Instead of spending time on office paperwork, we can connect with new clients.”