The CAD That Plays Well With Others
If you’ve ever had to put a new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system in place, you know that one of the biggest headaches is typically getting it to work with the software you already have. Integration and interoperability is such an important topic that it’s worthy of a deeper dive.
Most of the organizations we work with who are in the market for a new CAD tell us that in the past, integrating new software with existing software has been a very painful process for them. That’s why when we started Logis Solutions we focused on interoperability before anything else. In fact, our integration platform was the very first thing we created—even before we developed our CAD, Logis IDS. After all, the best dispatch software in the world isn’t worth much if it can’t work with the other software our customers use or need to easily share information. When systems don’t communicate with one another, a few things tend to happen (stop us if these sound familiar):
• You find yourself having to maintain data in more than one place.
• You have to re-enter data (often manually) into another system(s), which takes up staff time and raises the likelihood of mistakes. For example, it’s not uncommon for agencies to enter information into crew scheduling software and then need to type that same information into a CAD.
• You need one piece of software to report something back to another, but you haven’t found a way to do that (or your vendor told you it wasn’t possible for the two systems to work together).
• Your legacy mainframe system has data in it—but you haven’t been able to connect it to new software to extract that information.
So the “CAD of the Future” (as we like to call it) must have interoperability at its core. What does that mean, exactly, when you’re researching a new CAD to buy? Here are a few things to consider to ensure you purchase a fully interoperable dispatch system:
1. Your dispatch software should be simple to integrate with the software you already use or want to implement, whether that’s for booking non-emergency transports, ePCR solutions, patient lookup services, billing, staff scheduling or other resource management needs— or all of the above. In other words, any vendor you’re considering should talk about interoperability as part of your CAD—not an “extra.”
2. You shouldn’t have to modify your CAD or take it offline to integrate it with other software. At Logis, our integrations functionality sits on its own platform, which means we can create interoperability between our software and other software without changing your dispatch system or disabling services. So when we do an integration, we effectively put in place a firewall that also helps protect your CAD. Also important: A modern system ensures your dispatch, billing and resource management software are always kept up-to-date over time. No need to go offline for upgrades.
3. You shouldn’t pay for development hours to integrate with the most commonly used software. When we develop a custom integration for a client for the first time, that same integration is available to any of our subsequent clients at no cost beyond the time it takes to install it. (In other words, we don’t charge future customers again for the development or for licensing.) We have many existing integrations that are easy to put in place because they’ve already been deployed successfully, often in numerous other cases. And if you decide you want to build your own integration, you have access to Logis’s open APIs built on the latest technologies. Any vendor you choose should offer you the same options.
Interoperability isn’t just a nice-to-have feature, but one that makes a significant impact on organizations and the communities they serve. For agencies who bill for EMS services, for example, interoperable systems are better for staff, patients and the bottom line. An integrated billing solution, whether you choose Logis Billing or another product, means there’s no re-entering information into a separate system, which can cause delays or errors that impact revenue. Similarly, when your CAD “talks” easily to an ePCR, the call-taking and patient look-up processes are simplified, and your telecommunicators can deliver the most accurate patient information to your crews in the field, improving patient care and crew safety.
The “CAD of the Future” has the ability to scale across everything from a decades-old legacy dispatch system to an integration with truly bleeding-edge software. Given that there are EMS, fire service, and 911 systems across this entire spectrum, the best possible dispatch software must be able to connect them all and—just as important— support agencies and organizations all along the way as they move toward NG911 and other upgrades.