outcomes or patient satisfaction across their
different patient populations. Less than one
in five hospitals that collected this data used
it for any of these purposes. 2
San Diego has been forward-thinking in
using statistical data to improve patient care.
For example, John Serra, MD, James Dunford, MD, and their team has extrapolated
data collected from electronic patient care
reports, using that data identify three neighborhoods with higher rates of sudden cardiac arrest and lower rates of bystander CPR.
They announced this at the 2012 National
Association of EMS Physicians conference.
As a result, they’re starting to target community outreach efforts in these neighborhoods
and take interventions to teach CPR and cardiac health. Eventually, they will be able to
analyze the data to see whether these efforts
affected save rates.
The point is that if you’re going to have
paramedics collect data, you should use it.
Collecting, transferring and retrieving patient data shouldn’t be complicated.
CHANGE FOR THE BETTER?
You may be asking, did EMS intend to
turn clinicians into something other than
patient caretakers? To avoid these unintended consequences, EMS administrators
should change the way their agency collects
data. The following are seven recommendations that administrators and field personnel
can use to more easily integrate electronic
devices into their EMS system.
in better patient care and fiscal policy, saving millions of dollars. This is imperative
for private-sector EMS and public agencies with unpredictable municipal budgets.
Data also helps us do a better job at showing our community what we do and how
we are of value.
But we have to do it with accurate and
reports are rife with inaccuracies of all types.
Insist on intuitive
If you’re going to have paramedics collect
data, you should use it.
relevant information. For instance, a 2008
study published in Prehospital Emergency Care
showed that collecting social security num-
bers of 360 patients in the field resulted in
an error rate of 73.9% (266). 1 You might say
that is an extreme example, but have you
ever tried spelling a complicated last name
in the emergency department at 3 a.m. and
then tried to find that patient report through
a query later on? Let’s be frank; patient care
analyzed, and unless it takes form as sound
clinical direction or quantitative business
decisions. Most agencies are not doing this.
Massive amounts of unused data sits stored
in their “electronic garages.”
A 2006 National Public Health and Hos-
pitals Institute survey asked hospitals that
collected race and ethnicity data whether
they used the data to assess and compare
quality of care, use of health services, health
Few software solutions put the patient’s
needs first, are organized with the information in the way a patient encounter happens
and use intelligent intuitive principles to collect data. Instead, many provide complicated
pages and layers, creating a labyrinth that
inhibits user buy-in and engagement. This is
because the programmer creating your software may never have even talked to a paramedic before and isn’t aware of the needs of
your EMS personnel on scene.
Work with your vendors to communicate what you really need. Or better yet, if
you’re lucky enough to have personnel in
your organization who are savvy at programming, use them on special assignment
to assist with creating software.