Paramedics Access Patient Outcome Data – A Full Circle Success Story

New integration between Gold Cross Ambulance’s EMS data and the Utah Health Information Network offers patient outcomes and creates a more complete patient record

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Most EMS providers are familiar with the lack of closure that comes from caring for a patient on the way to the emergency department, but not finding out the patient’s outcome after care is turned over to the hospital staff. This lack of follow-up can be frustrating and may also be a missed opportunity for both EMS and hospital providers to learn from each other and their experiences. Gold Cross Ambulance, an EMS provider that has serviced Salt Lake City, Utah, for the last 50 years, has recognized this and seized the chance to improve its quality of care and create a more complete patient care record by exchanging data.

Utah Health Information Network (UHIN) is a nonprofit healthcare technology partner and standards development organization that first created Utah’s Clinical Health Information Exchange (CHIE) in 2009. The CHIE is a HIPAA-compliant and standardized hub that providers throughout Utah use to share clinical information. In 2015, UHIN received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to advance interoperability among medical providers. This grant provided the necessary funds for UHIN to connect with Gold Cross and bring EMS data onto the digital network.

Gold Cross began using the CHIE as a bi-directional data feed, allowing them to both transmit and receive patient data. Gold Cross EMTs and paramedics electronically submit patient care reports to the CHIE, and physicians within UHIN can then access the report information. After physicians treat or diagnose a patient, they update the digital report on the network, where paramedics can see these and any other changes to the report in near real-time. This bi-directional flow of data allows EMS providers to:

  • Verify the accuracy of their patient assessment and treatment;
  • Identify opportunities for additional education and training;
  • Observe geographic and demographic trends;
  • Obtain faster financial reimbursement due to accurate patient information; and
  • Increase confidence in their assessment skills.

The sharing of hospital and EMS data has already led to demonstrable process and care improvements. When Gold Cross leaders discovered a discrepancy between a paramedic’s initial assessment and the emergency physician’s diagnosis of an elderly patient who fell, they realized a need for additional provider training on symptom recognition. The training led to the development of a fall prevention program that Gold Cross now leads in collaboration with UHIN.

“As healthcare professionals, we are champions of improving patient care when an emergency does happen, but it’s even more important to prevent incidents from ever occurring. Accessing patient outcomes through UHIN allows us to know whether our treatments made a difference and enables us to constantly improve our processes and develop prevention programs,” says Brooke Burton, Quality Director for Gold Cross Ambulance.

Gold Cross Ambulance is one of more than 500 sources of data that submit health records to UHIN, including all of the hospitals within the four major hospital systems, independent hospitals, labs, clinics, long-term post-acute care facilities and payers. UHIN currently retains and shares more than 53 million patient care records, providing a wealth of data to the healthcare community. Improving patient care and provider training is just one benefit of sharing EMS data. To learn more about how the collection and use of data in EMS systems is improving operations and outcomes, register to attend the next EMS Focus webinar on Tuesday, May 15, and hear Burton discuss Gold Cross’s firsthand experience sharing and using data with UHIN and the impact it has on their patients and operations. You can also find more information about EMS data and its various uses at ems.gov/emsdata.