How EMS data is being used to measure value, improve patient care

Two agencies share innovative ways to use data to improve performance, as well as measure and report the value EMS providers offer to their patients, agencies and communities


EMS1’s special coverage series, Driving Change by Embracing the Data Revolution in EMS, sponsored by ESO, explores strategies for improving data collection, analysis and application to strategically effect improvements in EMS operations and patient care. 

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The popular phrase "data is king" could not be more accurate as more and more EMS agencies and departments hone their focus on gathering and measuring day-to-day data in order to improve operations and patient care.

However, any EMS leader who has collected data in the past also knows that not all data is created equal.

In one of Burton's examples, EMS providers responded to a 70-year-old male who was experiencing back pain after a fall. (Photo/City of Tempe, Ariz.)
In one of Burton's examples, EMS providers responded to a 70-year-old male who was experiencing back pain after a fall. (Photo/City of Tempe, Ariz.)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of EMS hosted a webinar that explored how two agencies are using data to improve performance.

Presenters included Brooke Burton, NRP, quality director for Gold Cross Ambulance in Utah; and Jamie Chebra, MS, NRP, director of EMS at JFK Medical Center in New Jersey.

In the webinar, Burton discussed Gold Cross Ambulance's efforts in connecting to a Health Information Exchange and how they’re impacting their quality improvement initiatives. Meanwhile, Chebra noted how JFK Medical Center EMS is using rapid emergency medical scores (REMS) to measure the impact EMS is having on patients' conditions, treatments and outcomes.

Memorable quotes on collecting accurate data, sharing information

"People chased me away with the HIPAA police. I had people tell me there wasn't a financial incentive for them. I started to get discouraged, and had almost given up, even though I knew there was a lot of value in it." —Brooke Burton

"I'm able to pull up these calls and review them; in one case, a crew ran a chest pain call. When they put in their primary impression, they entered ‘generalized weakness.’ It was a good learning opportunity to talk to the crew about the importance of data, documentation, getting things in the right places so it pulls into the right reports and making sure that everything is telling the same story." —Brooke Burton

"REMS by prehospital providers can add quantifiable data that can help answer the fundamental question that will define our profession: 'Does EMS make a difference?'" —Jamie Chebra

Top takeaways on having access to patient data and outcomes

Here are the top takeaways on data analysis from the presentation:

  1. Having access to patient outcomes allows EMS providers to compare a hospital's diagnosis to their initial impression. In one of Burton's examples, EMS providers responded to a 70-year-old male who was experiencing back pain after a fall. However, the hospital's outcome in the clinical health information exchange (cHIE) later showed that the patient was septic. "The crew can come to me if they want additional information and we can do a very thorough full case review for this patient. We can look at things like, did the sepsis develop once they were in the hospital, was it something that was missed on an initial impression; it can turn into a valuable teaching moment for the crew," she explained.
  2. EMS leaders are able to interact more with field care providers and EMS providers are validated in regard to their patient care and skills. Burton said the biggest benefit of having access to patients' hospital outcomes is that it has brought more EMS providers into the quality improvement office in a positive way – they go to learn, ask questions and see information they would have never had access to otherwise. "It's also just like a pat on the back, because 99 percent of the time, it's validating their patient care and their skills. It's telling them, 'yes, we were on the right track with our patient.'"
  3. Data can show that interventions in the prehospital environment are making a difference in the in-hospital environment. "We are making a difference in reducing the amount of time patients are spending in the hospital. Ideally, as a result of that, we're reducing cost to payers and reducing burden on the health system, which was the overall goal of REMS," Chebra explained. There are still many variables that need to be ironed out at JFK Medical Center EMS, but Chebra said the initial read on the data is promising and can be expanded further into the world of EMS. Having access to the REMS data, Chebra said, was not only an opportunity for organizations to share information, but also proof that EMS does have an impact on prehospital care and long-term patient outcome.

Learn more about leveraging data analysis in EMS with these resources from EMS1:

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