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Preparing for Mandatory ePCR NEMSIS Upgrade

To paraphrase an old saying, when you’ve seen one EMS organization transition to NEMSIS 3, you’ve seen one EMS organization transition to NEMSIS 3. But among EMS agencies and fire departments that have made the switch, a number of common elements emerge that have helped make the transition run smoothly. Here are 5 of the most important:

1. Understand what NEMSIS is (and what that means for you). 

NEMSIS stands for the National EMS Information System, a data dictionary that defines and standardizes how patient data is collected in your state — and among EMS provider agencies nationwide. NEMSIS 3 is the newest update to the system, and it’s being rolled out on a state-by-state basis. When it’s your state’s turn, the way your EMTs and paramedics collect patient data and complete reports will change. If you’re prepared, you can expect a smooth transition.

With the right preparation and good communication, your EMS service, regardless of its type, can transition smoothly to NEMSIS Version 3 in compliance with your state’s reporting requirements.

2. Talk with your state EMS office and learn about your state’s requirements, along with how they differ from national requirements.

The NEMSIS V3 data dictionary consists of 574 data elements, which were developed with input from stakeholders across the country. While these elements capture all of the information needed during a typical EMS encounter with a patient today, states also have the option of adding additional data fields for research or as new data collection needs are discovered.

As states develop these customized fields, NEMSIS works to ensure they are shared with other states and with software vendors so additional states can adopt the same elements if they desire. The custom elements shared with NEMSIS are available on the NEMSIS website.  While NEMSIS is a national standard, EMS is regulated at the state and/or local level—meaning it is ultimately up to states and localities to decide exactly what data elements to collect and how to collect them. For this reason, it is vitally important to know what your state’s plan is for NEMSIS v3 implementation.

Many states have rules and regulations that require proper data submission, with fines or other penalties for agencies that do not comply, so it’s never too early to get in contact with your state and build your understating of how to submit data in a timely manner.

3. Talk with your software vendor.

Not all software vendors can support NEMSIS Version 3, so get in touch with yours as early as possible to ensure that your software is compliant with Version 3. Also, confirm that your vendor is recognized by the NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center (TAC) here. Finally, know that additional standards can be required by your state and/or local jurisdiction, so confirm that your vendor is compliant with state and local regulations by contacting both your state EMS office and any local EMS officials. (Contact info for state EMS data managers is available here.)

4. Prepare your organization for the change.

Asking members of your workforce to change the way they report data may sound daunting. But with the right preparation and good communication, your EMS service, regardless of its type, can transition smoothly to NEMSIS Version 3 in compliance with your state’s reporting requirements. Here are some essential tips:

  • Ensure that field providers are aware of the coming changes — and properly trained prior to implementation.
  • Communicate early and often with internal IT staff, and make sure they’re connected with state EMS officials, data managers and your software vendor.
  • Ensure that any required hardware upgrades are addressed early on.

5. Remember that NEMSIS 3 is good for EMS. 

NEMSIS Version 3 is a major step forward for EMS because it standardizes our patient data for all parties. The result is an improved ability to document data important to patients and healthcare providers in EMS. It also forms a foundation for integrating data with the broader healthcare system — and bringing EMS to the healthcare table.

Kenny Schnell is Vice President and General Manager of ESO Electronic Health Record (EHR)

Kenny Schnell, VP & GM EHR, ESO