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How EMS Data Impacts Joint Commission Compliance

ESO Staff

For more than 22,000 hospitals in the U.S., the Joint Commission (JC) Gold Standard proves their facilities have undergone rigorous certification processes and maintains a high level of care. Compliance with JC standards also helps ensure that hospitals are more quickly reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid and are in line with their peers across the nation.

The JC standards include two specifically aimed at improving patient care by ensuring patient records are complete and comprehensive by incorporating any available data from prehospital care. This means more communication with EMS partners and innovation in handing off patient data quickly, securely, and accurately.

What is the Joint Commission?

Founded in 1951, the Joint Commission is an independent, nonprofit organization and the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. The JC conducts regular surveys and audits of hospitals and labs to verify compliance with its published guidelines.

According to the JC, its standards are the basis of an objective evaluation process that can help health care organizations measure, assess, and improve performance. The standards focus on critical patient, individual, or resident care, and organization functions essential to providing safe, high-quality care.

What’s the Complete Record of Care?

Among its more than 250 standards, one of the most basic yet vital is the Record of Care standard. While hospitals are expected to thoroughly document and update a patient’s record while he or she is in its care, the JC standard takes it a step further, highlighting the importance of prehospital care. In fact, standard RC.02.01.01 EP 2 notes that the medical record should contain “any emergency care, treatment, and services provided to the patient before his or her arrival.”

This can pose a unique challenge to hospitals wanting to achieve compliance since the transfer of patient data from ambulance to ED can be tricky. In some cases, handwritten notes are passed off, lost, or incomplete. Other times, ED nurses and physicians find themselves waiting for a fax or having to make follow up calls for clarification. Sometimes, abnormal symptoms presented in the field have disappeared before arrival to the ED and are not documented, meaning hospital staff most likely never knew they occurred.

Electronic Patient Care Records

A truly complete record of care – accurately incorporating prehospital data and care – can help alleviate many of these issues. More and more, hospitals and EMS agencies are turning to electronic patient care records (ePCRs) to standardize what data is collected and how it is shared. A full view of patient history – including EMS data such as primary/secondary impression and fluids/medication administered – can offer important clues that help physicians make more accurate treatment plans. This, in turn, increases the rates of positive outcomes and improves patient health and satisfaction.

Additionally, ePCRs help reduces transcription errors – meaning less transferring of handwritten notes into the hospital record system – and fewer potential duplications or omissions. This can directly reduce your likelihood of a sentinel event. According to the JC, a hospitalized patient is subject to at least one medication error per day. While most do not cause serious harm, those that do can be expensive: each preventable adverse drug event (ADE) costs a hospital approximately $8,750.

How Data Exchanges Can Help

As more hospitals and EMS agencies recognize the benefits of digital patient records, software tools called data exchanges to play a larger role in facilitating communication along the continuum of care. For example, tools like ESO Health Data Exchange (HDE) allow ePCRs to be directly imported into the hospital records system.

This allows hospital professionals to quickly identify prehospital medications, conditions present, and other important patient info, all in real-time. Patient data can be securely shared as needed, and records can be retrieved instantly whenever needed.

Additionally, updated digital records allow for more accurate and efficient overall system data review for audits, accreditation, and QI/QA projects. The ability to easily analyze trends and records helps ensure you remain compliant with JC standards and can easily submit required metrics and reporting as needed. EMS data can also help achieve compliance with accreditation for specialty centers, such as primary or comprehensive stroke, STEMI, and trauma.

An added benefit for ESO HDE is the ability to share back patient data with your EMS partners, effectively “closing the loop” on any given patient with a final diagnosis and treatment. This provides a real-world learning opportunity for EMS partners to see what might have been missed and what treatment proved effective. It also helps EMS agencies conduct their own performance improvements and data analysis, complete with hospital data.

Compliant and More Efficient

Prehospital data helps hospitals not only achieve JC record compliance but improves operational efficiency and patient care. A full picture of the patient’s condition can make life-and-death differences in diagnosis and treatment. By utilizing today’s top tools for patient records, hospitals can ensure their records are more accurate, more complete, and more useful.

Take a tour of ESO HDE now to see how you can integrate EMS data for more complete and compliant patient records.

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