It’s a bit mind blowing to consider that patient history lookup for EMS is not already a generally available thing. With electronic records as the norm these days, I’m sure we all just assume that first responders can tap into the digitized health records that abound for each of us. But it’s simply not true. In fact, it’s an ongoing pain point for EMS that the patient record creation and handoff experience in general continues to be very manual and inefficient. When pursuing point-to-point integrations as the solution, the path toward optimization is long, windy, and frankly starts to feel like chasing a mirage to imagine that efficient healthcare communication will ever really exist for emergency medical services. But here’s the crazy part: this capability is far more within reach than most imagine…or more precisely, more so than many healthcare IT vendors would sell you on. If we’re stuck using a certain definition of interoperability, then health systems and hospitals are in the driver’s seat and EMS will continue to flounder. But expecting a top-down approach to connectivity creates an untenable path toward real solutions…say, for example, solutions that enable EMS to complete a patient history lookup against a whole network of connected providers sharing data.

Let’s examine a path toward connectivity that addresses real needs with obvious benefits: giving EMS providers more information to better serve the patients they’re serving in the most emergent of circumstances.

Single Point Integrations Won’t Solve EMS Blind Spots

The landscape of patients needing emergency care from EMS has changed. It’s not just the elderly anymore. The population as a whole is sicker, with multiple complex conditions, many of which require a whole host of different doctors and specialists, all with their own care plans and medication lists. More people are using the ED as regular access points to care, so EMS are busier than ever, serving more people than ever, most of whom are less straightforward to treat than ever. And we’re asking them to do it blindly. Imagine the stress of being a first responder, trying to do your job and save lives with antiquated technology (looking at you, printer) and generally little more to go on than what the (distressed) patient can relay. We know that better connectivity reduces stress for EMS, but approaching the need for communication one facility, one connection at a time is inefficient and frankly not worth the wait.

When care networks like Carequality are opened up to EMS providers as they respond to calls within their community, the ability to learn more about their patients at the point of care (or even enroute!) delivers incredible benefits to addressing the need at hand with the whole picture of care in view. Obtaining a full medication list, for example, is critical for determining which interventions are appropriate and safe during transport, not to mention enabling these on-the-go providers to actually bring that data into their ePCR for speedy documentation. Not only is this important to facilitate a smooth, digital exchange of that PCR, but populating the record with more accurate data benefits the whole care team downstream…from ED to admission to post-acute management.

EMS Providers Need Common Sense Connectivity

Healthcare connectivity that aims to benefit communities must bring EMS providers to the table as first-class citizens in the solution. Especially as more healthcare shifts away from hospitals and patients prefer home-based care, equipping first responders with very basic query access is a no-brainer. At-risk patients have a hefty load these days, trying to remember all the details of their various illnesses and ailments, and it’s a total disservice to continue to rely on patient report as the source of truth. Bringing patient history lookup to EMS via established networks and flipping a few simple switches to implement will provide exponential benefits and meet long-standing, common sense needs to deliver better care…anywhere.