Keep it Simple: Integrating EMS and Hospitals on ESO

ESO Staff

The best presentations at Wave conferences turn into conversations among attendees and presenters. Everyone shares experiences, “ahah” moments and resources. That’s what happened when Karrie Austin, RN, hosted a session titled “EMS and Hospital Integration: Why EMS is a Good Partner.”

Austin is Trauma Program Manager and EMS Coordinator at Good Samaritan Hospital, part of the Multicare Health System in Puyallup, WA. She shared her journey convincing not just one hospital, but her system – and even some competing facilities – to share data with EMS via ESO. She took up this gauntlet after her facility had twice said “no” to EMS and ESO personnel.

The secret to success?

“Keep it simple,” Austin said.

“Simple,” in Austin’s telling, means to avoid making big presentations to rooms full of busy people who already have too much to worry about. There are too many people predisposed to say “no” in those situations and one “no” is enough to kill the project in that setting.

Instead, she held small one-on-one sessions with influencers where she could point out shared hospital experiences such as the observation that paper records left in the emergency department can “grow legs” and never make it into a patient’s chart. To others, she shared the benefits of better records on reimbursements and compliance with core measures. Elsewhere, she showed that EMS is administering more treatment in the field than caregivers understood and that more cooperation with EMS in the field could improve patient outcomes.

“Trying to get everyone on the same page was a major challenge,” Austin said.

Her struggle clearly resonated with the assembled professionals in the audience. One attendee shared that a hospital their agency worked with discovered that patients EMS delivered were often recorded as “walk-in” for simple reasons of expediency or inability to remember after the fact. Another offered that integration can be an ongoing process; tweaks and updates in other hospital systems can have a cascading effect, removing a data point from ESO’s dashboards. So, the partnership – once forged – has to be maintained. Others hoping to replicate Austin’s success asked if she would share any of the tools she used in the process.

Austin has helped the patients in Washington. But, she is not standing still. Once you achieve integration, you can use analytics to fine tune your EMS-hospital partnership and that’s Austin’s next endeavor. She hopes to reduce times on performing EKGs in the field based on certain indicators, tighten any variances between pre-and post-treatment diagnoses and bring rehab and long-term care facilities in her region on board with ESO.

She encouraged the audience to get started on integration by finding “a champion in your particular hospital.” Those champions can lead to more like-minded administrators…as long you Keep it Simple.

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