4 Reasons Why Your EMS Data is Important to NEMSIS
If you are a part of an EMS agency in any U.S. state – or the majority of U.S. territories – you undoubtedly are aware of the efforts of the National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS), which serves as a national database and “universal standard” for how EMS data is recorded, stored, and shared.
NEMSIS helps defines the data fields required in electronic patient care reports (ePCRs), setting a standard language and benchmark for pre-hospital care agencies across the nation, even if they are using different ePCR or electronic health record (EHR) software. These standard “national elements” or data points are regularly submitted to the NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center to then populate the National EMS Dataset, paving the way for a big-picture view of the state of the industry.
Of course, the success of the NEMSIS project depends on the quality of the data submitted by individual agencies, and a shared commitment to the vision of what this national database could accomplish; namely, an improvement in the industry as a whole and better care for communities. Additionally, according to NEMSIS, an individual agency’s data can benefit EMS professionals in 4 key ways, such as:
1. Your data provides an understanding of what is happening within your agency and community, and provides opportunities to modify services.
While a “gut feeling” can go a long way in identifying issues in your agency, it’s really almost impossible to create an effective quality improvement program without accurate, historic data. Baseline data for your team – real-world statistics collected over specific periods of time – are needed to not only help you see what is and is not working, but also track any progress your efforts might be making.
The ability to access data from NEMSIS helps you check on how your agency is performing compared to your peers, whether you are looking at agencies of similar size, location, or demographics. Having this useful data will save you time and iterations in successfully starting your next quality improvement project, getting you results faster and allowing you to make a real impact in your community and agency.
2. Your data provides a way to measure if changes in policies or protocols are having the desired effect and bringing value to the agency.
Again, anecdotes and impressions can give you a feel as to what protocol changes seem to be helping your community and agency. But nothing compares to cold, hard facts and data points. Ensuring that you have your starting data identified, and being able to easily track progress back to your starting point easily illustrates what is working and what needs to be tweaked.
In a similar way, your submitted NEMSIS data can help your peers across the nation improve their own services and protocols. Your shared successes can truly help improve care for all Americans, not just those in your community. But in able for a new model to be recreated in other communities, the appropriate “metrics” need to be in place to help guide and redirect as needed during the process.
3. Your data empowers you to be more confident in decisions and to meet the needs of the agency and community by providing situational awareness.
Real world data – from both your own community and from similar agencies’ data submitted to NEMSIS – can be a huge asset in your training efforts. By learning from what is working in other communities, you can find your own “low-hanging fruit” – easy opportunities to make immediate improvements in your community.
Additionally, data collected in the NEMSIS database makes research efforts by industry professionals more efficient and effective. The more real-world data they can use to create a hypothesis and track results, the more likely the results ill be beneficial to the EMT on the street.
4. Your data helps provide the information needed to request and allocate resources appropriately.
As the saying goes, “money talks,” and in the world of tight resources and limited allocations, being able to support your requests for additional headcount or funds comes down to having concrete data to back it up. Today’s EHR software allows you a bird’s eye view of operations, and allows you to cross-reference various data points to show the connection between funding and agency successes. Having easy-to-digest data points also makes your message understandable by civilians and the media, an important factor in achieving your goals for your agency.
Additionally, being able to access supporting NEMSIS data from your peers in other agencies – those operating in similar communities or under similar constraints – can also help support your requests for increased head count or operating budget. Again, data can make more of an impact, and can be easily shared and passed along to key decision makers.
As you can see, submitting quality data to be used in the NEMSIS database not only supports the EMS agency as a whole, but has direct benefits for your own community and agency. To learn more about how to implement NEMSIS 3, the current version, for your agency, download the free NEMSIS 3 Implementation Toolkit for EMS now.