I was included in a panel of experts that were asked to respond to questions on the 2016 EMS Trend Report published by Fitch & Associates in coorperation with EMS1 and NEMSMA.

Read the other responses here.   

1. Which State of EMS 2016 finding surprised or interested you most? 

Two things stood out to me. First, almost half of the organizations were able to implement hypothermia protocols, which is a relatively quick uptake of a new clinical procedure versus other interventions. Note that the 2015 AHA guidelines do not recommend prehospital initiation of therapeutic hypothermia.

Second, I am surprised that nearly half of respondents are surveying patient satisfaction – although I think we need to define the word “survey” to better understand the effort to collect and analyze satisfaction data.

2. Which additional finding was either most affirming or most concerning? 

It is affirming that clinical measures are being used by agencies to measure appropriate application of care, but the amount of variation is worrisome.

3. How do the findings of the first year align with other trends in EMS and health care?

It makes sense to me that there is variation in how “success” and “good care” are measured. The U.S. health care system as a whole can’t agree on what constitutes good care, so it’s no surprise that EMS can’t either.

4. What specific actions, based on State of EMS 2016 findings, do you recommend to EMS leaders?

Recognize that no EMS organization is an island, while at the same time no two organizations are exactly alike. Protocols and procedures can have variation across organizations, but said variation must come from a place of good intentions.

EMS is a changing field, but different organizations have the capacity to change at various rates. Don’t try a new idea just because a famous EMS agency or service did it. Do your own research and come to a decision that is best for your organization’s economic and cultural situation.

5. What else would you add to the discussion?  

The fact that Fitch, EMS1 and NEMSMA teamed up to do this report is fantastic. Although prior attempts at surveying EMS organizations have been made, the long-term goals of this survey set it apart from those efforts. By committing to seek out responses from the same organizations year after year (and with such a large response rate), this survey will only become more valuable both within and outside the EMS industry.

Concepts like mobile integrated health care and community paramedicine, paired with the continued focus on ensuring that health care is effective while being patient-centered, noted in this report and subsequent surveys will ensure that EMS is able to keep pace with the trends, changes or alternative markets coming our way.