Today’s technology-driven world is a balance of giving out too much information and concerns about privacy laws. Yet shared information is a valuable necessity for training, monitoring, and improving emergency protocols. Learn more about how the EMS data revolution should be utilized to its fullest potential.
Protected by HIPAA
Naturally, any time the idea of shared information is brought up, there comes the question of adhering to HIPAA laws. EMS personnel must follow HIPAA procedures, and maintain and share physical and electronic records with regulated safeguards. Thus, it it permissible for paramedics to exchange data with agencies and professionals other than the treating hospital.
ePCRs are Critical to Assessing EMT and Community Needs
Sharing health and treatment records has come a long way since the Emergency Medical Service System Act of 1973. There were different incarnations during the 1990s until finally becoming NEMSIS, the National Emergency Medical Services Information System in 2001. Now that progression has become a wealth of ePCRs, electronic patient care reporting. Syncing crucial data between mobile devices is another way that apps for first responders are changing courses of action. Analyzing the information received from a call, from dispatch’s intake to when the case is officially closed, reveals:
- re-affirmations or deficiencies in hands-on training
- the use of evolving or old-school techniques
- addressing common challenges for 911 dispatch centers, including delayed and misrouted calls
- response times, and if bystander instructions would/did benefit the situation
- following procedures and the order of steps taken – are medicines dispensed right away, or after other measures, for instance
Consider Fire Rescue 1’s January 2018 article “Ohio fire department continues to struggle with increasing EMS call volume”. Medical emergencies comprised 89% of Toledo’s 60,662 calls in 2017, yet many didn’t necessarily require the fire department. Patients often called the fire department for help, because of financial concerns going to the hospital or for private treatment.
The EMS data revolution can help identify a need for paramedicine, where specific teams conduct house and non-emergency checks. This then keeps emergency responders focused on calls of that nature, while still attending to community wellness.
EMS Data Revolution Benefits Cost Analysis and Scrutiny
Healthcare and emergency services are nevertheless still run as a business, which means budget reviews, cuts, and cost analysis. Data can support the value of keeping EMTs and paramedics as part of the first responder system. It also provides the evidence for new supplies, equipment and vehicles, and how certain external factors may affect treatment. Delays may reveal a need for different traffic provisions or treatment centers. A patient suffering from STEMI (ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction) may need to be transported to a specialty hospital, and not the default one. Data supports how EMS could use drones now and in the future, and other protocols resulting from hands-on experiences.
As with other high-profile professions, EMS is often under media scrutiny. EMS1’s June 2018 report, “EMS data sharing combatting the opioid epidemic” outlines the value of knowing numbers. The more that paramedics evaluate common crisis situations, the better prepared they are for discussing it with agencies and critics.
Immeasurable Personal Value
It’s not uncommon for EMTs and paramedics to worry about patients’ outcome. The EMS data revolution boosts confidence, by illustrating the essential link between first responders and physician or hospital treatment. It is vital for agencies to work together towards ensuring quality care as best as possible.
Because data is building respect for EMS, it’s an exciting time to get into the field. See our current job openings here.