FICEMS Recommends Using Grant Funding for NEMSIS Version 3

Federal Interagency Committee on EMS says NEMSIS Version 3 will help improve patient care and promote collaboration between EMS and the broader healthcare community

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FICEMS recommends that Federal grant-making agencies make funds available to EMS agencies for implementing or upgrading systems compliant with the latest version of the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS). A copy of the letter is available online.

In the letter, FICEMS Chair Ed Gabriel cited several projects and publications that support the role EMS data play in improving patient care. Included among those he mentioned are the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Federal Health Information Technology (HIT) Strategic Plan for 2015-2020 and the National EMS Advisory Council’s (NEMSAC) recommendations from 2013. Gabriel also offered language for the granting agencies to use in their grant guidance.

"FICEMS promotes the adoption and full utilization of electronic patient care data systems by all EMS agencies that are standardized through the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS)," wrote Gabriel, the principal deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Standardized and accessible patient-level data is essential to the improvement of prehospital emergency care and the integration of EMS into the broader healthcare system."

Version 3 of NEMSIS, which creates the framework for collecting, storing and sharing standardized EMS patient care data, was released in 2013. As with most software upgrades, it takes both time and money for agencies to move to patient care reporting software that uses the new version. FICEMS’ unanimous vote to recommend that agency grant funds be used for improving state and local NEMSIS-compliant systems reflects how critical it is that the EMS community takes advantage of the opportunities offered by the improvements to NEMSIS.

The latest version of NEMSIS also includes additional data elements for conditions the medical community has learned how to treat more effectively, such as stroke, ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), trauma and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. It also meets HL7 standards, which makes integrating EMS data with hospital and other electronic medical records much easier, creating a complete digital record of all patient care.

"Data is the driving force that is moving EMS systems of care and performance ahead. Federal grants are a great way for state and local agencies to acquire funding needed to upgrade or implement NEMSIS-compliant systems, so their providers can share and use standardized data to improve the care they offer to their patients," said John Marshall, interim director for the NHTSA Office of EMS.

States that do not have a NEMSIS-compliant data system, or who are operating on an older version, are strongly encouraged to apply for emergency preparedness grants and cooperative agreements. Be sure to look for future federal grant opportunities and announcements as they become available.

Congress established the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) in 2005 in order to ensure coordination among Federal agencies supporting local, regional, State, tribal, and territorial EMS and 911 systems. The FICEMS was also created to improve the delivery of emergency medical services (EMS) throughout the nation.