In 2011, the survivability of EMS systems across the country is being challenged and their future in question. Many struggling systems are under the financial burden of decreased tax funding and increasing numbers of uninsured patients. Communities are asking such questions as, “How bad will it get?” and “Are we at the bottom yet?”
Despite the uncertainty, opportunities are ahead. To achieve them, we must be willing and able to show the value EMS brings to our communities. A recent Los Angeles Times article reported that Affordable Care Act initiatives will focus on care improvements. The 10-year, $10-billion effort comes amid mounting evidence that patients are suffering in the current health-care system. Donald Berwick, head of the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, is quoted in the article as saying, “The American health-care system is not currently performing the way it needs to. It’s broken.”(1)
The real opportunity for EMS requires proving the valuable role we play in the health-care system and the critical difference that can be made in patient outcomes. Are we willing to question, measure and improve our systems?
1. Levey NN. “Medicare, Medicaid quality plan unveiled.” Nov. 17, 2010. Los Angeles Times, Tribune Washington Bureau.
This article originally appeared in February 2011 JEMS as “Are We Ready for the Future? Where EMS stands now & where it’s prepared to go.”