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North Dakota Statewide EMS Initiative Promotes EHR Use

A statewide initiative will enable over 120 North Dakota EMS agencies to engage in EHR use during patient transport.

North Dakota will launch an initiative to promote EHR Use among EMS providers.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The North Dakota Department of Health’s (NDHS) Division of Emergency Medical Systems is launching an initiative to allow emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to engage in EHR use during fast-paced patient transport.

The state health department is partnering with EMS, fire department, and hospital health IT software company ESO to develop a data repository specifically designed to collect and analyze EMS patient care reports. Allowing providers to collect and analyze key patient health data will help to improve patient injury prevention, performance improvement, and patient health outcomes.

"We're proud to partner with the state of North Dakota and be a part of this journey to help improve the health and safety of their communities and protect the health and safety of their providers," said ESO Healthcare Vice President Allen Johnson.

"Smart data and insightful analytics can be a real game changer for organizations across the healthcare spectrum when it comes to patient transport and treatment,” he continued.

As part of the initiative, North Dakota will implement ESO’s web-based EHR to aggregate and analyze data from state agencies and report the EHR data to the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS).

ESO’s EHR is NEMSIS 3.4 compliant, and all North Dakota state agencies will begin using the system by July 2018.

The EHR system includes a web-based electronic patient care reporting (ePCR) system for data entry, analytics capabilities for injuries, performance, and patient outcomes, NEMSIS 3 integration capabilities and automatic data reporting, and other functionality.

EMS personnel and state agency employees will receive training on the system to ensure a smooth implementation. Equipping EMS personnel with patient EHR data at the point of care will help to improve patient care delivery during critical transitions of care to reduce rates of patient mortality and disability.

The NDHS Division of Emergency Medical Systems selected ESO following a request for proposal (RFP) soliciting applications for an EMS-specific EHR system.

“Our office is excited with this new partnership and is actively engaged in signing the contract and implementation efforts,” stated NDHS Division of Emergency Medical Systems officials on the agency’s website.

The state’s Division of Emergency Medical Systems is responsible for licensing all North Dakota ambulance and quick response units, training, testing, certifying, and licensing EMS personnel, coordinating with the state trauma system, administering an EMS program for children, and coordinating other EMS-related programs.

North Dakota will join California, Colorado, Indiana, Oklahoma, New York, and other states that have taken steps in the past to improve EHR use and health data access for EMS organizations and optimize prehospital patient care. Effective, well-informed prehospital care can help to ensure safe patient transport to the appropriate healthcare facilities.

Last year, ONC published its Search, Alert, File, and Reconcile (SAFR) model to promote EHR use and health data exchange among EMS organizations.

Developed in partnership with the State of California Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMSA), the guidance helps EMS providers engage in bidirectional health data exchange with HIEs for improved care quality and research.

The guidance emphasizes the importance of complete, longitudinal patient health records. Currently, most EMS providers lack a connection to an HIE or access to complete patient EHRs. The SAFR model offers EMS personnel access to patient demographic, allergy, and recent hospitalization information that could be crucial at the point of care.

The guide also stresses the need for EMS data standardization for improved interoperability between agencies.

Working with health IT innovators, HIEs, and EMS providers to develop HIE connections is key to improving EHR data integration across care settings.

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