3 metrics to track in your EMS operations
EMS, like any other aspect of healthcare, is data driven, and tracking, measuring and reporting the right data can improve operations and patient care
EMS data tracking and analytics have expanded dramatically in terms of their capabilities over the past decade. The data collection values of yesterday are now being transformed into metrics that provide analysis which can lead to functional data.
Both operations and patient care metrics can be evaluated with higher attention to detail and specificity compared to years past. Much of this can be accomplished through electronic PCR software programs alone, but can also be enhanced through combining integrated dispatching and billing platforms.
So, what can add value? What can we analyze to change our processes and improve our patient’s care? Here are three metrics to track and analyze to improve EMS performance.
1. EMS resource allocation
Looking beyond simple response times to the scene, we’ve begun to look more toward the big picture: the total call time. From an administrative and operational standpoint, how efficiently are your crews and apparatus utilized? Are they overworked, in tune with the rest of the organization or falling behind in their performance? Unit hour utilization (UHU) alone can’t tell us that answer, but weighting that value with the total call time can.
After all, running one call doesn’t equal the same value in all environments, especially if that one call takes up a resource’s time for an average of two or three hours for each event. Looking at the big picture, data pulled from your PCR software can help to put into context your crews’ actual workload.
What about daily staffing? Do you know your peak times of operation, or even your most common request for service locations? Everything from system status management and apparatus placement to station locations and crew staffing levels can be derived from this kind of data.
2. EMS quality assurance
Yes, IV proficiency is important, but so is airway confirmation. How compliant are your crews with utilizing end-tidal carbon dioxide monitoring in your intubated patients? Or, how does the patient’s pain scale correlate to your pain management options? What about blood pressure management correlating to IV fluid administration? As a quality assurance staffer, why not run a query searching for these data elements, and then track them over time? What are your agency’s trends when it comes to assessing pediatric vital signs, or accurately administering weight-based medications according to your protocols? These are all quality assurance metrics that can help to drive patient care and not just reward a single provider for the most IV starts in the year.
3. Population health
As the opioid epidemic raises concern in many communities, how is your community affected? What are its five-year trending values? How about CHF exacerbation, sepsis or trauma? Where do you need to focus more attention in terms of education, protocol development, equipment purchases or specialized care? What is the overall population health trend of your community, how has it changed over the past few years and how has your agency changed in its response?
Data and analytics can provide us with so much more insight today than it could a decade ago. What metrics do you track? What metrics do you share with your crews and community leaders?
As we push our profession toward a quality-driven, evidence-based, practice-focused, progressive industry, what data are you utilizing to prove this? How have you transitioned past simply tracking IV starts, and what software are you utilizing to accomplish this?