If there is anything that has had a tremendous impact and influence on the health care system in the last ten years, it is data. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, data became even more crucial than before. Providing information about patients, treatment history, and other essential aspects, improved the overall quality and efficiency offered by health care personnel.
Until recently, emergency medical services had been left out of the world of data influenced quality assessments and reimbursement. However, it appears as though that has been changing. The sharing and collection of this data analysis have been critical in allowing emergency services essential information. Sharing this information helps EMS make reliable decisions and provide patients with the best care possible.
Studies have shown that nearly 75% of EMS agencies and providers use EMS software and ePCR (electronic patient care reports) to collect information on hundreds of data points related to patient care. This includes demographic information, payment information, costs, clinical outcomes, patient safety, and much more.
Information is analyzed and shared to ID areas where things are running well. It can also highlight where improvements should be made to the system. With that in mind, it is essential to understand and evaluate what data can really do for EMS and the use of data in emergency care services.
Put the Data to Work
Let’s look at this situationally. If an EMS provider in a smaller, more urban area is called to respond to a cardiac arrest emergency, typically, there will be a few bystanders witnessing the event. In many instances, at least one bystander will know how to care for someone in cardiac arrest; therefore, they begin administering CPR at the scene. When this happens, patient outcomes tend to improve.
In this type of event, emergency care services can begin collecting information about the people on the scene, more specifically on the bystanders with CPR training and knowledge. This data collection allows a pattern to be established. In areas where CPR training is more available, cardiac arrest survival rates have been proven to be much higher than in areas where there has not been easy access to this kind of training and outreach.
Having the ability to collect EMS data can do a lot more for emergency care. Suddenly, health care services can measure the effectiveness of CPR training. This can result in communities making life-saving courses more accessible to the public.
Benefits of Data in Emergency Care
There are a lot of benefits to having the ability to collect this kind of emergency data. These benefits can include:
- Steady access to information in regards to the effectiveness of current protocols and processes. When there is the option to examine ePCRs to evaluate the effectiveness of how those systems are running, EMS can identify problems and possible solutions. They can also understand more clearly if the changes they are making have the effect they desire.
- EMS and emergency care services can also measure the effectiveness of more specific interventions that they have been taking.
- Through data points, the value of EMS is able to be further identified. The administration will always need to justify the expenses that are made. When there is actual data that shows the value of specific equipment and tools, it is much easier to show how critical those things are.
- With supportive data, billing can be improved. EMS agencies can provide patients with more accurate bills and insurance claims to providers when there is more precise documentation. This ensures that they do not miss out on possible earned revenues and make it easier to provide care to the patient.
- Data collection and organization allows information to be more easily shared. Data is only valuable when it is being utilized, and the data an EMS agency collects can provide critical information for other health care sectors. This allows EMS to share information not only with each other but with other counterparts as well, improving safety for everyone in the industry.
Challenges to Data Collection
There are some challenges to collecting data in EMS. Recording and collecting information when in the field is not always comfortable or practical. Some providers even resent the idea of filling out a lot of paperwork when a shift ends and instead use hard-to-read notes. There can also be technical issues when it comes to how the data is used.
However, data is the pivotal cornerstone of how emergency care is handled at the end of the day. It makes sense for EMS to tap into this information and recognize the value of it all. If emergency services can take the lead, data collection in emergencies can save a lot of lives. At the same time, streamlining the data collection process makes everyone’s jobs easier.