Improving EMS & Hospital Communications

Hospitals and EMS agencies looking to improve communication and information exchange across the entire continuum of care have found that using both EMS mobile apps, such as ESO Alterting, and ESO’s Health Data Exchange gives them a complete view of the patient record and improves outcomes.

  • Posted on April 2, 2018

Hospitals and EMS agencies looking to improve communication and information exchange during emergency response and throughout the entire continuum of care have found that using both EMS mobile apps, such as ESO Alterting, and ESO’s Health Data Exchange gives them a complete view of the patient record and improves outcomes.

To become effective interagency communicators, hospitals and EMS agencies must look at the entire continuum of care to find weak spots within their communications systems and processes. Many agencies find that new technologies—such as EMS mobile apps and health information data exchanges—are an important component of making this shift. These tools work together to strengthen communication so that hospital, EMS personnel, and first responders can keep the focus on their patients at every stage.

Rethinking the Hand-off: Improving Patient Care with EMS Mobile Apps

The sirens are blaring, the hospital emergency department is in chaos, and your patient is in distress. Now seems like the perfect time to radio the ED, right? As the pitfalls of EMS radio communication become increasingly more apparent with the development of new technology, EMS departments have started considering other options for communicating with hospitals in recent years.

The Journal of Emergency Medical Services notes that few facts are retained when patient information is only communicated verbally and ED staff remember less than half of the information that EMS crews give them during a verbal hand-off. Researchers have also found that communication failures during transfer of patient care are major contributors to error and harm to patients.

Why do we use radio during hectic patient transports if we cannot remember verbal messages even in the best of situations? Clearly, it’s time to explore other communication options. If radio is out, then two-way communication via EMS mobile apps is certainly in. Tools like ESO Alerting provide a customizable and secure way for EMS providers to communicate with both EDs and cath labs while being able to focus on their patients more.

With a few taps on a smartphone screen, EMS crews can easily use a smartphone or tablet to create a standardized report based on their agency’s protocols that can then be sent to the ED in a matter of seconds, saving them time and frustration at the scene. Not only do these apps offer unlimited points of entry, they also allow EMS to send pictures and videos with their electronic reports. Radio definitely falls short on that front.

EMS mobile communication apps also provide value for hospitals. EDs and cath labs receive the case information they need to prepare and care for their patients. EDs are able to share the incoming patient’s room number with EMS and text the right care providers prior to the patient’s arrival.

Hospitals and EMS agencies who have made the switch have found that by using EMS mobile apps, they can save time when it matters most and provide a higher standard of emergency care for patients in their community.

However, EMS mobile apps are just one piece of the puzzle.

Using the Health Data Exchange to Improve Communication Skills

Of course, effective communication between EMS teams and hospitals does not stop after medics drop off patients at the ED. EMS agencies need to be able to share their data with other departments within the hospital and hospitals should be able to share data on patient outcomes with EMS to truly improve patient care. ESO’s Health Data Exchange (HDE) allows EMS agencies and hospitals to do just that.

HDE is a system-agnostic, bidirectional data exchange that allows EMS agencies to share patient care records with any major hospital EMR platform. This improves patient safety because  healthcare providers are able to get a better picture of what is going on with their patients. Hospitals can share real-time feedback on test results and outcomes with EMS agencies so that they can learn and make adjustments for the future.

Understandably, patients are not always in the best state to provide basic information to paramedics during an emergency, which leads to patients arriving at the hospital with incomplete demographic information. With HDE, patient demographic information can be transmitted from hospital records to EMS agencies to improve patient tracking and billing processes.

Value-based care is the name of the game now. Integrated patient records help medical centers meet clinical benchmarks mandated by CMS’s Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program by providing more opportunities to document essential patient information. Hospital quality assurance teams can now see what treatments EMS crews gave patients in the field so they can accurately calculate service line performance measures. This feature of HDE is a welcome addition for hospitals operating on thin margins.

Sharing so much data also provides more opportunities to identify areas for improvement through data analysis. HDE allows administrators to analyze hospital and EMS data and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes, because they are able to see the entire continuum of care and implement system-wide changes informed by the data.

Effective Communication Systems Translate into Better Patient Care

EMS mobile apps bring communication between emergency personnel and emergency departments into the 21st century so that health care providers can focus on their patients, not clunky, outdated radio systems. Additionally, the Health Data Exchange is key to improving interagency communication and patient outcomes because it allows hospitals and EMS crews to improve clinical and operational performance by providing a complete view of the patient record. By combining the powers of HDE and EMS mobile apps, organizations can ensure that they are effectively communicating with each other every step of the way.

Want to learn more?

Click here to learn how ESO Alerting and the Health Data Exchange can improve communication and patient care.