Advanced Dispatch

Before you continue, be sure you already understand the following:

Preassign a Future Call

Some EMS operations elect to preassign the day's scheduled calls, leaving it up to the crews to go enroute at the appointed time. With AngelTrack you can continue to dispatch your crews in this manner.

To preassign a future call to a crew unit, visit the Scheduled Dispatches page. Select a call and then click the '[Unassigned]' link, which opens the Dispatch Assignment page.

On that page, the "Now" button will assign the call to the selected crew unit and change the call's activation time to now. The "Later" button, by contrast, is for preassignment: the call will be assigned to the crew unit, but the activation time will remain in the future.

Crew members can view the list of calls preassigned to them by visiting their Crew Home page.

AngelTrack will estimate which shifts can handle the call

When you preassign a future call, AngelTrack will show you a grid of all shifts that can handle it. In building this grid, AngelTrack considers all of the following:

  1. The effective service level of the shift, which is calculated from:
    1. the max service level of the vehicle,
    2. the current patch levels of all crew members onboard, and
    3. the CPR certificates held by the crew members (if your state requires this).
  2. The time left on duty, before the shift is scheduled to end. This is set by the dispatcher when starting a new shift.
  3. The calls already assigned to the shift, including their estimated runtimes. Every vehicle has a configurable patient capacity; by default ambulances and cars carry one patient at a time, wheelchair vans carry two.

Consequently, AngelTrack will show you only those shifts which are legally qualified to run the call, and which have time to complete the call before going off-duty, and which will have room for the patient during the call's timeframe.

You can override any of these constraints by unticking the various "Hide shifts that..." checkboxes next to the grid:

☑ Hide shifts that are fully loaded
☑ Hide shifts that are not qualified for this type of call
☑ Hide shifts that are scheduled to end before this call finishes

By tactically removing one or more constraints, you can see other shifts that might be able to field the call.

Duplicate an Earlier Call

When a caller says "I need to book a call for John Doe, he's going the same place he went last week.", AngelTrack can save you a lot of typing. Simply switch to the Closed Dispatches list, input the patient's last name, and pull up the list of matching dispatches. Find the one that the caller is referring to, and click its Dupe link.

AngelTrack will then create a new dispatch and fill in most of the fields for you; you need only add the caller's name, the new pickup date, and the activation and pickup times.

Sometimes the caller doesn't say "He's going the same place he went last week." until you are halfway through creating a new dispatch. In that case, once you attach the patient to the new dispatch, click the patient's name to open a window showing all the patient's records. Select the History tab, scroll down to the relevant dispatch, and click the Dupe link. You can then fill out the remainder of the duplicated dispatch, and discard the new dispatch you were initially creating.

Use Bookmarks to Speed Up Repetitive Bookings

If you book a lot of dispatches that are very similar, but not identical enough to be a recurring dispatch, you can use browser bookmarks (aka favorites) to speed up the process.

To do so, go to Closed Dispatches and find a call that represents the sort you are often asked to book. Click the "↻ Dupe" link to open the Create Duplicate Dispatch page. Now create a bookmark (aka "Add to Favorites") of the page, but don't click the "Save" button.

Once that's done, you can visit the bookmark any time you want to book a new dispatch with those fields already filled-in. You can do this for dispatches from a certain origin, or for a certain origin + destination, or for a certain patient... whichever closed dispatch you choose to bookmark. You can create such a bookmark for each of your contracted facilities, and maybe for each of your frequent-flier patients.

Assign Overlapping Calls to a Crew Unit

Suppose a crew unit is transporting to a nursing home, and at that nursing home they are scheduled to pick up a new patient once they drop their current patient off. Best practice is to assign the second call to the crew at the same time as they begin transporting the first call. The crew will then mark themselves (or a dispatcher can mark them) enroute for the second call while simultaneously transporting the first call. Consequently, the leg times for both dispatches will accurately reflect what really happened.

The Colored Bars Show Overlap Opportunities

The schedule of upcoming dispatches sometimes shows colored bars under certain origins and destinations, like this:

Dispatch overlaps indicated by colored bars

The colored bars indicate opportunities for overlaps, double-loads, wheelchair-by-ambulance, and other savings. The colored bars appear whenever two or more calls occur within one hour and within one mile of each other. Of course it is up to the dispatcher to decide whether, and how, to take advantage of such overlaps.

The Live Map is also good at finding overlaps, if you switch it into "Shift Mode". That mode will allow you to perform dispatching right in the map. To learn how, read the Dispatching from the Live Map Guide.

Your ability to find and exploit overlaps and double-loads will be rewarded, as it appears as one of the performance measures on the Dispatcher Efficiency Report.

Properly Close a Dispatch when the Crew Finds No Patient Onscene

When a crew shows up onscene to collect a patient, but the patient is not present, it is usually the fault of the facility: they should have called their transport provider to cancel the patient's scheduled transport. So, the facility ought to pay the pickup charge (but not a mileage charge) for the crew showing up. And then the Billing department should be advised of what happened, in case they are asked to explain a pickup charge with no subsequent transport or return-trip.

Best practice in this situation is to close the dispatch as "Completed, best effort", and set the "Patient Disposition" to "Cancelled onscene, no patient found" or other relevant value. The "best effort" flag then serves to warn the Billing department that this dispatch did not go as planned, and therefore it should not be billed in the usual way. (Certainly it will not be billable to any insurance policy.)

In order to perform the aforementioned recordkeeping, close the dispatch using the Best effort button, rathern than the usual As ordered button.

Or you can click "Followup", and use the Followup page to close the dispatch as "Completed, best effort" and specify an appropriate Patient Disposition. If you do not, then it is up to the crew to set the Patient Disposition field. AngelTrack will then double-check that the value they choose is consistent with the dispatch's "best effort" status, and prompt them if there is a mismatch.

In this example the correct Patient Disposition value is "Cancelled on-scene, no patient found". Once that value is set, AngelTrack's PCR will automatically know that most of the usual patient-care exercises are unnecessary, and so will allow the crew to submit their report to QA without vitals, assessments, signatures, and the like.

You should also study the Call Completion Guide, in order to be absolutely clear on how the different methods of closure affect the path that a dispatch follows during postprocess.

Properly Close a Dispatch when a Patient must be Immediately Returned

Sometimes a crew and patient arrive at their destination, only to discover that the appointment was cancelled, or the patient cannot remain there alone, or the patient refuses and demands to be taken home. In this situation, you will be tempted to leave the dispatch open, order the crew to return the patient home, and record odometer readings for the entire round-trip.

Best practice is to resist that temptation, and instead do the following:

  1. Close the outbound call as "Complete, best effort" as described above, with mileage recorded, and add a comment to the Dispatch/Billing notes explaining what happened.
  2. Immediately assign the return-trip to the crew unit. AngelTrack will sense that they are already on-scene and so will mark them as such. The crew then loads the patient back up, presses the progress button once to mark themselves transporting, and takes the patient back.
  3. When the crew reports they are finished and back in service, close the return-trip dispatch normally.

These actions will result in two full billable transports: the outbound trip, with pickup charge and mileage, marked "best effort" to indicate something went wrong; and the return trip, likewise with pickup charge and mileage, marked "as ordered". The Billing department -- alerted by the "best effort" flag -- can then decide which charges to waive, if any.

Split a wait-and-return call into separate trips

A wait-and-return dispatch can be split into a normal two-dispatch round-trip by doing the following:

  1. From the dispatch board click the dispatch's ID number to open its Dispatch Edit page, and untick the Wait-and-return checkbox. Then click the Save button.
  2. Edit the dispatch again, and in the return-trip window at right, click the "Create one now" link. AngelTrack will then automatically fill out most of the fields in the return-trip dispatch; you just set the caller name and perhaps the arrival times.

Change a Round-Trip into a Wait-and-Return

At any time you can flag a round-trip into a wait-and-return: simply check the "Wait-and-return" checkbox and then save. Once that's done, AngelTrack will treat the two trips exactly as any other wait-and-return.

Split a BLS Crew Member Off to a Wheelchair Van

A crew member can belong to multiple active shifts. Therefore, when it becomes necessary to temporarily assign a BLS crew member to a wheelchair van, do not remove him from his BLS shift. Simply create a new shift, with him alone in the wheelchair van, and assign the wheelchair dispatch to the new shift.

Whenever he finishes and climbs back into his ambulance, end the wheelchair van shift in the usual way.

Send an ALS Intercept to a BLS Call

When an ALS unit is sent to intercept a BLS unit, there are two different ways to record the fact, depending on circumstances.

Adding a crew member for just one dispatch

If the ALS crew member will be joining the crew just for this one dispatch, and not remaining with them afterward, then add the ALS crew member to the dispatch rather than to the shift. To do so, open the dispatch's Dispatch Edit page, select the "Crew" tab, and add the ALS crew member to the list:

Dispatch Edit | Crew Tab

Adding a crew member for many dispatches

If, on the other hand, the ALS crew member will be remaining with the crew afterward, accompanying them to additional calls, then add the ALS crew member to the shift. To do so, open the Shifts page, click the ID number of the relevant shift, and add the ALS crew member. By adding the ALS crew member to the shift, AngelTrack will then automatically add the ALS crew member to all of the shift's active dispatches too.

Once that's done, the active dispatch will pop up on the ALS crew member's tablet/smartphone, so that he or she can use the map to find their way to the scene. He will also then be able to mark everyone on-scene if he arrives before the BLS unit.

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Make Confirmation Calls to Facilities

To quickly confirm tomorrow's scheduled calls, open the Confirmations for Tomorrow page. There you will see tomorrow's schedule, sorted by facility, with each facility's phone number shown. (If you don't see phone numbers, then edit your facility records and add them.) Go down the list, calling each facility and reviewing the schedule; use the add-note button to record a confirmation, and use the Cancel link to cancel.

To learn more about making and reviewing confirmation calls, read the Confirmation Calls Guide.

Book Transport for a Patient Under a Hospice Contract

When a patient is covered by a hospice contract, all of their transports are billable to the hospice agency -- even if the patient does not reside at the hospice agency (or ever even visit).

AngelTrack automates the billing work in this situation, provided you set the dispatch's bill-to fields appropriately. The call may be eligible for insurance, but in any case you must also check the ☑ Bill facility box and then choose the hospice facility from the list of billable facilities.

If you do not see the hospice agency in the list of billable facilities, then you must designate the patient a resident of the hospice facility (even if the patient does not actually live there). You can set the patient's residence right in the Dispatch Create page using the popup patient editor, just click the Expand icon.

Leave Notes About Confirmations, Changes, and Exceptions

When something goes wrong, and you suspect the customer may bring it up later when it's time to pay the bill, you need to document it immediately. AngelTrack provides dispatchers with several different fields for keeping a written record of phone calls, confirmations, changes, and the like. Read the Note Fields Guide to learn more.

Retroactively Reassign a Dispatch to a Different Shift

You can retroactively change the assignment of a dispatch from one shift to another, or from a shift to an affiliate, or vice versa.

From the Dispatch Edit page, the current assignment is shown at the top as a link:

Retroactive reassignment link

Click the link to change the assignment.

The Dispatch Assign page will open, and it will show the shifts and affiliates that were available at the time the dispatch activated.

Book a Dispatch Retroactively

If your company experiences a prolonged network outage, and is forced to run on paper for a day or two, you may be asked to transfer the paper call records to AngelTrack.

To learn how to do so, read the Retroactive Booking Guide.

Use Heatmaps to Choose Posting Sites

The Call Volume Heatmap report, available from Dispatch Home, visually shows where your hotspots are. You can look for pickup hotspots or dropoff hotspots, for certain times of the day or all day, for any service levels you choose.

Using the filter controls on the heatmap, you can use it to choose posting locations for different times of day. You will probably see a pattern of hotspots in the morning, and a different pattern of hotspots in the evening.

Once you've got some posting locations in mind, you can define them as stations in AngelTrack. Once that's done, you can (when creating a new shift) assign a shift to post at one of those stations when not running a call. (Remember, each shift has a "based at" station and a separate "post at" location.) The crews' mobile devices will then direct them to return to that posting station after they finish their call.

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