Massachusetts EMS Providers Face New, Mandated Data Collection Standards

Just how effective are EMS providers in Massachusetts? For the first time, the state will soon have data to help answer that question. Massachusetts is instituting data collection standards for all EMS providers as a means to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of its emergency medical services statewide. The state’s proposed system, based on the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS), is similar to data collection systems already in place in most states across the country. On June 13 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health hosted a conference to discuss this mandate and its implications for EMS providers.
 
The real value of any data collected is the knowledge revealed in its analysis. The potential for Massachusetts and its EMS providers to uncover opportunities for improving practices that enhance patient care while simultaneously reducing costs to deliver this care could be significant.
 
As the June 13 conference title “Leveraging IT and EMS Data Improvements to Enhance Performance, Operations and Collections” suggests, for EMS providers this new data collection initiative is more than a scorecard to measure EMS performance. The proposed Massachusetts Ambulance Trip Record Information System (MATRIS) will allow more than 460 data points to be collected directly from ambulances and fire trucks. Conference sessions provided a review of MATRIS and how to choose a system to report and manage this data, as well as practices to analyze and use data collected to improve operational procedures and efficiency, and reimbursement and billing functions.
 
Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s June 13 conference attracted EMS providers from across the state, and was led by Abdullah Rehayem, Director, Office of Emergency Medical Services, and Kathy Foell, Director, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and Control Program. Speakers included chiefs of several fire departments and public and private EMS providers within Massachusetts, as well as Skip Kirkwood, Chief of Wake County EMS in North Carolina. Attendees also visited exhibits of conference sponsors.
 
The state plans to begin the pilot phase of this data collection program this Fall.
 
Professional Ambulance (Pro EMS) Chief Executive William Mergendahl is a member of the Massachusetts EMS Data Work Group, the committee that organized the conference for the state. Mergendahl, who was a speaker at the conference, also invited and sponsored the appearance of Wake County EMS’s Kirkwood at the event.
 
Resources:
To learn more about potential EMS Agency Reports under the NEMSIS system, see http://www.nemsis.org/nemsisReporting/emsAgencyReporting.html.
 
To view a copy of the Administrative Requirements Manual entitled “Statewide EMS Minimum Data Set” published by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, see http://www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs/dph/emergency_services/ar/5_403.pdf. This version is effective 8/19/08. Please contact the DPH directly for any updated information.
 

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