About a year ago, we played myth busters and revealed just how much patient information is NOT available to EMS (Emergency Medical Services) providers when they need it. In an era when you can’t attend a single healthcare conference or event without hearing “interoperability” in the air, and patient portals absolutely abound (and a subsequent abundance of logins…), it’s an unfortunate reality that the disconnect that exists in the most critical, emergent circumstances are more common than we’d assume. But the issue is not the assumption…we should assume that when we pick up the phone in an emergency, that our first responders have access to the barrage of ePHI available for us, and that the transport process has leveled up from printed, paper records switching hands. Alas, not so much. Not only is this handoff in need of much more love, but creating channels and practices to keep the lines of communication open between hospitals and EMS providers is critical for optimizing an intervention opportunity that carries some of the greatest cost and risk in the industry.

EMS Cares Beyond the Single Episode of Care

Think for a moment about the kind of individual who signs up to be a first responder. They are inherently caring, brave, strong, and invested in their fellow humans. To think that they just move on after an episode of care is assuming too little of these folks. EMS providers have reported reduced stress levels on the front line with improved communication, not only as care providers looking to do a good job, but as humans who want to know what happened to the individuals they helped. They’re invested!

And they’re running a business. EMS organizations want to participate in the industry-wide efforts to reduce cost, implement efficiencies, improve outcomes, and keep their people employed. (The latter is no small feat given the burnout sweeping across healthcare professionals.) However, there is a huge blind spot that EMS contends with in ways other providers don’t. The information trail post-transport is often pretty sparse, in large part due to the disconnect between systems owned by hospitals and health systems, and those leveraged by EMS. How do we imagine these providers and organizations – pivotal to our communities – participate in quality initiatives and invest in on-going training for their front-line folks without keeping that line of communication open beyond the transport?

You guessed it: we can’t.

Simple And Quick-To-Implement Healthcare Communication Tools Bridge the Gap For EMS

Asking healthcare providers to learn yet another, monolithic system, full of new workflows and mouse clicks, is like handing a dozen kittens to a firefighter during a rescue. Just…please don’t. Providers need user-friendly tools that connect them intuitively to not just a hospital, but to a whole network of providers to bring exponential value to their episodes of care. From the receipt of PCRs within a hospital EHR’s native workflow from EMS providers, to the exchange of patient notes and billing information back to the EMS organization, leveraging secure, electronic communication methods ensures that the transport is not the end of the story. Because it’s not. The path toward wellness for the patient, for well-being for the providers, and for thriving, improving organizations to serve the community relies on this kind of exchange that is marked by collaboration versus connectivity blind spots.