There have long been challenges in linking data to improve patient care, starting with how two different systems can exchange data in a way that is useable to both. More emphasis has been placed on this type of care improvement, and great strides have been made lately. JEMS magazine recently noted an amazing statewide effort in Arizona, where even the smallest agency in the state is able to access patient outcomes reports, including hospital diagnoses, procedures and disposition information.
“EMS agencies can use this integrated data provided by the state in many ways. It’s especially beneficial as it is difficult to receive patient outcome data from each hospital,” explains Rebecca Haro, Health and Medical Coordinator, North County Fire and Medical District. “It is being used to change actions to improve patient care, whether through quality assurance, training or protocols.”
Prior to this reporting, EMS agencies would need to individually request each receiving hospital send them available outcomes data, a process that was very time-consuming, if even possible. Through this automated system, agencies are able to improve operations and promote local initiatives, including community paramedicine programs. To make this reporting available to their agencies, the state turned to ImageTrend.
“The new method reduces the strain on personnel resources and gives measurements that each agency can use for improvement,” explained Rogelio Martinez, Data and Quality Assurance Section Chief at ADHS. Martinez illustrated how reporting available through ImageTrend’s Report Writer allows an agency to determine if its providers assigned the appropriate level of triage regarding stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) and provided the optimal treatment prior to arrival at the emergency department. This helps the agency to determine if additional training might be warranted to better recognize and treat specific conditions.
Some previous methods would simply provide a PDF copy of reports to the hospital. It’s perfectly readable by humans to provide care, but it doesn’t facilitate analysis or the bidirectional path necessary to receive the outcomes data.
MedStar Mobile Healthcare also utilized ImageTrend for their bidirectional data flow to achieve the outcomes reporting they can use for patient care improvements. In the previously mentioned JEMS article, MedStar’s Matt Zavadsky noted they are now “able to actually populate trauma, stroke and cardiac registries automatically, and then as part of the bi-directional exchange of data, MedStar receives patient outcome data and patient utilization data back from the hospitals in discrete data units.”
Additional data exchange can enhance patient care at all levels, and supports the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC’s) vision for interoperability and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Triple Aim Initiative.
Exchanging pre-hospital and discharge outcome data can be accomplished in several ways, depending on hospital requirements. Bidirectional data exchange through a complete solution allows for quality improvement, billing and even automatic registry population. The data available today is what will drive patient care improvement tomorrow.
 Griffiths, Keith. “Connecting the Dots with Data.” JEMS, EMS Compass Supplement May 2016: 19-23. Print.