What is NEMSIS?
It’s estimated that there are currently more than 21,000 EMS agencies operating in the United States. This is great news for communities since it means that emergency care is most likely nearby and readily available. On the other hand, that number of emergency agencies also means just as many different ways of doing things, types of patient records, common phrases, and ideas of collecting and sharing data.
The Need for Consistency
Understandably, getting an accurate and informative view of the emergency and prehospital industry’s state can be challenging. If agencies aren’t using the same terminology, recording the same variables, or using the same approach for electronic patient care (ePCR) records, you’re not really comparing apples to apples.
In 1996, the NHTSA Office of EMS developed the National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS), a national repository for collecting, storing, and sharing standardized EMS data from states nationwide. NEMSIS provides guidelines and a framework for collecting, storing, and sharing standardized EMS data and maintains the National EMS Database. More than 30 million EMS activations from more than 10,000 agencies across the country are submitted to the National EMS Database each year.
The Importance of Data
A large focus for the NEMSIS program is educating agencies on their data’s value, both to their patients and communities, and the EMS industry at a state and national level. Of course, a complete and accurate ePCR makes a more efficient handoff from ambulance to ED and saves health care professionals time as they can immediately review it and return to it for a full history of a patient’s treatment.
However, ePCRs can also be processed on a large scale to identify trends and areas for agency improvement. They also help ensure that agencies get reimbursed more quickly and have enough funds to operate fully-staffed and equipped.
Operational data also helps when it comes to budget decisions, giving real metrics to those making tough decisions. Data can help identify the need for a new trauma center or help form a targeted community risk reduction program based on the most common injuries in an area. On a larger scale, EMS data can help identify industry-wide initiatives or standards that are – or are not – making a difference in community safety and business efficiencies.
Who Uses EMS Data?
The millions of records collected and processed by NEMSIS can be used by a wide range of experts looking to improve community health, reduce risks, improve operational efficiencies, and develop new guidelines. Additionally, NEMSIS guidelines have a far-reaching effect across the industry. For example:
- Researchers: Utilize data to create evidence-based guidelines or gain insights into the most pressing issues, like COVID-19 risks.
- Agencies and Clinicians: Review data to identify ways to improve care at the local agency level daily.
- EMS Educators: Promote the importance of data quality and performance evaluation through accurate documentation.
- State Data Managers: Retrieve state data maps, software compliance information, and state reports
- Software Developers: Follow the NEMSIS standard when implementing new ePCR software products for local and state EMS systems, ensuring more consistent data collection and reporting in the future.
By standardizing the framework of data collection and creating a central data warehouse, NEMSIS is making it easier for EMS professionals to move the profession forward at local, state, and national levels.
National EMS Database
NEMSIS supports the nation’s largest publicly available EMS dataset for analysis in its National EMS Database. Free of confidential and private information, these data points are collected by U.S. states and territories and help assess the nation’s EMS systems, facilitate original research, and support data-driven innovations in EMS.
NEMSIS recently released the 2020 NEMSIS Mid-Year Public-Release Research Dataset that includes 19,749,812 EMS activations submitted by 10,620 EMS agencies, serving 47 states and territories during the first half of the 2020 calendar year. This mid-year release is provided due to researchers’ overwhelming requests interested in investigating EMS response during the COVID-19 outbreak. NEMSIS professionals are hoping the early release will give researchers a “jump-start” on their work, improving EMS services during a pandemic.
EMS Software for Easier Data Collection
While EMS data’s value is clear, some EMS agencies struggle with knowing where to start in their data collection efforts. Others are working with outdated systems, clunky processes, or redundant data entry that wastes time and causes errors. The good news is that there are now software tools designed specifically for the EMS industry that make it easier to record, process, and share data. For example, ESO Electronic Health Record (EHR) software creates complete, accurate ePCRs easier than ever – for smoother handoff to the hospital – and better review of incidents, trends, and processes.
Today’s top EMS data software also automates reporting based on specific requirements and timelines and can give you immediate historical views of your data with a click of a button. Easy-to-understand and straightforward reporting makes it simple to share your data story, whether you are walking into a budget meeting, applying for a grant, or creating a QI/QA program. Finally, the ability to analyze your own agency’s data lets you easily compare your performance with peers via the National EMS Database or publications like the ESO EMS Index.
Watch a video on ESO EHR to see how it makes creating EMS clinical documentation easier than ever, helping you stay compliant with NEMSIS guidelines and timelines.