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.
All-too-often, we look at EMS data from the lens of the number of IV sticks we’ve performed and how many times we’ve administered aspirin.
That data is great … but only for the quality assurance and operations staff within your agency.
What about involving elected officials – your stakeholders – those who have an influence over your budget?
Data in EMS has transformed from a static quantitative metric into a dynamic qualitative metric. We’re now able to tie data in EMS to:
- Patient outcomes.
- Process improvement.
- Operational efficiencies.
- Community needs trending.
- Crew resource management.
Board of directors’ members, city council members, county executives, mayors, grant committees and even private donors want to know more than just how many 12-lead ECGs were performed. They want to know the “why” and “how” they were performed. They want to know their impact.
Data showing EMS efficiency
Here are just a few of the data metrics we can obtain from ePCR software and incorporate into EMS operations:
- First medical contact (arrival)-to-ECG times driving faster door-to-balloon times.
- Unit hour utilization values.
- ALS downgrading and BLS upgrading statistics.
An EMS director will likely have more success in asking her city council for increased staffing if she can provide concrete data showing both operational efficiency and operational need. Here’s an example:
“While operations are running smoothly at the moment, next year’s call volume trend – when compared to the past five years of historical data and the community’s population growth – shows that the call volume in the district will increase another 5 percent. This will lead to an increase in unit hour utilization, an increase in peak volume call times, an increase in revenue, a subsequent decrease in employee time for recuperation and reporting, a decrease in vehicle service life due to greater operational time, and a decrease in backup unit availability for any additional calls … unless we can get your support.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to use your ePCR’s data to present this kind of information to your stakeholders? Wouldn’t it be nice to show them the impact?
Data showing trends
All of the buzz within our industry mentions EMS call volumes on the rise, opioid overdose numbers reaching the sky, and repeat-caller numbers increasing within a small population subset.
Wouldn’t it be nice to accurately track and trend this data?
Using your ePCR data analytics can help to pinpoint target areas within your community that need a greater ALS presence, need overstaffing during peak hours and need individual community health resources within a particular population area, all because of trending.
Are overdose calls really on the rise? Do you need to increase your medication stock to account for this increase?
How about the number of motor vehicle accidents that you responded to at a particular intersection that resulted in a transport, a flight, a fatality? What kind of impact does this have on your agency, the community, the patients? Trending data in this instance could prove the financial – and safety – benefit to adding a stop light or round-about.
Yes, much of the objective call numbers from this instance could be gathered from data provided by dispatch centers and law enforcement entities, but your data can provide so much more. You can provide the impact factor, the subjective data and even the objective costs associated with this type of situation.
Data showing growth
What’s the big picture at your organization?
Does an increase in emergent hospital returns correlate to an increase in call acuity? Are you seeing increased mutual aid requests for service due a lack of resource availability? Do you notice that the ambulance that you began staffing three years ago has helped to lessen the burden on other crews, all while showing an increase in its own original call volumes at the same time?
Validating our wants and needs can be done through showing growth. This doesn’t always have to equate to increased call volumes, but it does need to equate to some form of positive impact.
Requesting staffing grants, funding for apparatus, additional long-term support for capital purchases … each of these requests are correlated to growth.
As an EMS director or chief, presenting data to your community leaders that shows your agency is on the progressive edge of protocols because it recognized historical trends puts you into a positive light. Remaining “in the black” with your financial accountability because of appropriate resource utilization shows your own transparency and accountability. Showing that you have a five-year plan based on valid data shows your investment.
Being able to show growth through your ePCR’s data can help you to maintain that level of professional accountability that your stakeholders expect. It allows you to combine your efficiency benchmarks with your historical trends. It allows you to show your agency’s impact, and that’s not something that everyone else can do.