EMS Agenda 2050 Quick Take: Healthy people are better students, workers and citizens

Making the EMS Agenda 2050 become reality will require strengthening the collaboration between EMS, public health and healthcare


WASHINGTON, D.C.—To realize the vision of the EMS Agenda 2050 and its guiding principles to improve population health will require a strong collaboration between EMS, public health and all other healthcare partners. Alex Isakov, MD, MPH, a member of the Technical Expert Panel, moderated a discussion on EMS collaboration during the EMS Agenda 2050 National Implementation Forum.

An integrated systems approach is one of the keys to improving collaboration and accomplishing the goals of reducing preventable death and disability. The panelists for the discussion were:

  • Art Kellermann, M.D., MPH.
  • Jeff Michael, Ed.D.
  • YiDing Yu, M.D.
Collaboration and system integration are critical to transition the EMS Agenda 2050 vision into reality. (Photo/EMS Agenda 2050)
Collaboration and system integration are critical to transition the EMS Agenda 2050 vision into reality. (Photo/EMS Agenda 2050)

The panel discussion, “Collaborating with Partners in Public Health and Healthcare,” begins at about 1:13:00 in the video embedded at the end of this article. 

Memorable quotes on collaboration:

“Some (EMS) systems perform better than others. With a strong interface between EMS and hospitals, you can have better outcomes in STEMI care, stroke care, trauma care and sepsis care.”

—Alex Isakov, M.D., MPH

“There’s an opportunity with the EMS Agenda 2050 and Institute of Medicine trauma report and “Road to Zero” transportation report for a systems approach and for EMS to be an integral part.”

—Jeff Michael, Ed.D.

“We have an incredible opportunity to recognize that population health is [people] ready to go to school, ready to earn a good living, and ready to help their community out. [In 2050] CEOs, mayors, county commissioners and governors will be just as responsible for their personnel (health) as a colonel, general, admiral is for the health of their personnel.”

—Art Kellermann, M.D., MPH

“There’s incredible opportunity for EMS to be deeply integrated into the healthcare system.”

“All payors and providers want turnkey solutions. They really want something that is packaged and done for them. Training, protocols, insure the risk and there is very little that needs to be done. [Turnkey solutions] work because they are a full-service model.”

—YiDing Yu, M.D.

Top takeaways on collaboration

Here are four top takeaways on the importance collaboration will play in moving the EMS Agenda 2050 from vision to reality:

1. System integration is an important component of success

Panelists discussed the opportunity and need for better system integration. They encourage every EMS field provider and leader to look upstream or a level up the organization chart for opportunities to advocate for integration between systems.

The EMS Agenda 2050 states:

“Healthcare systems including EMS are integrated in 2050 with each other and communities in which they operate. EMS services collaborate frequently with their communities including public safety agencies, public health, social services and public works. Communication and coordination between different parts of the care continuum are seamless, leading people to have a feeling that one system comprised of integrated parts is caring for them and their families.”

The panelists encouraged EMS providers to advocate to decision makers about how to best allocate healthcare payment resources, the importance of integrated systems, and the positive impacts of improving patient health and population health.

2. Loneliness is deadly

YiDing Yu, M.D., as a primary care provider, is really motivated to prevent emergency department visits and hospital admissions on behalf of her patients. Yu echoed comments of earlier speakers about the “loneliness of silos” and the importance of integration.

Systems that lack connection between EMS, public health, hospitals and other social services are likely to have lower rates of survival from time critical illness like cardiac arrest, stroke and STEMI. EMS providers and paramedic chiefs need to get out their silos and build connections in their community to reduce death and disability.

3. Population health means an always capable citizenry

A spectrum of care from preventive care to public health, to primary care, to acute care has long been necessary in the armed forces. Isakov and Kellerman both discussed the importance of healthy soldier for the military to achieve its deterrence and combat mission.

“Healthy people are better fighters,” Isakov said. “In the community, healthy people are better students, healthy people are more productive at their work, they are better thinkers, better leaders.”

Kellerman paid homage to U.S. Army Major Jonathan Letterman, his innovations to improve combat casualty care and his distinguished service during the Civil war. Letterman became known as the “father of battlefield medicine.”

“Letterman is arguably the great-grandfather of EMS,” Kellerman said.

EMS and healthcare at large has the opportunity to guide improved population health, similar to the military’s focus - since the days of Letterman – on an always ready force.

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