Administration and Leadership, News

White Paper Proposes EMS Expand its Role in Patient Care

Issue 3 and Volume 39.

On Jan. 16, 2014, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) issued its report entitled “America’s Emergency Care Environment: A State-by-State Report Card.” The report card gives the country’s emergency care system environment a near-failing grade of a D+. It generally cites an emergency care system whose resources are stretched to the max and, as such, not able to adequately focus on issues like improved access to care, injury prevention, patient safety, public health and disaster preparedness.

This report card comes on the heels of a report from the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission that one-third of the state’s spending on healthcare services is wasted on preventable emergency room visits and preventable hospital readmissions.

An integrated care delivery system may be the solution to improve the country’s emergency care system.

An integrated care delivery system may be the solution to improve the country’s emergency care system. Photo courtesy MedStar Mobile Healthcare

Perhaps it’s this dichotomy that’s creating the environment for integrated care delivery systems to gain such popularity.

An integrated care delivery system that identifies and educates high-risk patients on how to prevent exacerbation of their illness or disease; responds, assesses, treats and refers patients away from stretched EDs and to a patient-centered medical home; and safely navigates low-acuity patients who do call 9-1-1 as the healthcare safety net to more appropriate care settings, could go a long way to bridge the gap between a stressed emergency care system and the high cost of treating patients who access the emergency care setting unnecessarily.

Perhaps the ACEP report should be viewed less as an alarm claxon, and more as a dinner bell calling everyone to the table together—to better balance the needs of the patient with the inability for our non-integrated systems to provide appropriate, cost effective care for them.

Read both reports:

ACEP Emergency Care Report Card 

Massachusetts Health Policy Commission Report 



Access to emergency care:

  • Access to providers (including specialists)
  • Access to treatment centers
  • Financial barriers
  • Hospital capacity

Quality & patient safety:

  • State systems
  • Institutional systems

Medical liability environment :

  • Legal atmosphere
  • Insurance availability
  • Tort reform

Public health & injury prevention:

  • Traffic safety and drunk driving
  • Immunization
  • Injury
  • State injury prevention efforts
  • Health risk factors

Disaster preparedness:

  • Financial resources
  • State coordination
  • Hospital capacity
  • Personnel