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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Updating the EMS Agenda for the Future: The Search for Data-Driven Approaches to Improvement

Author: Gregg Margolis, Division of Health System Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & Tara Holland, GAP Solutions, Inc. - Supporting the mission of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 5/16/2016 4:56:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Innovations;

The emergency medical services (EMS) community is working to find collaborative solutions to some very tough questions so that they can better provide quality care during disasters and every day. For example, how can EMS professionals quickly access critical medical information on a patient with the current fragmented system of medical records? How can the system surge effectively and pull in people from other states in the face of interstate credentialing requirements? What are the opportunities for EMS to improve community health beyond emergency response?

These are just some of the issues that the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agenda for the Future wants to address in its next iteration.

In 1996, key industry stakeholders from a broad multi-disciplinary spectrum developed the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agenda for the Future. This agenda painted a vision of an EMS system focused on community-based health management that is fully integrated with the overall health care system. The agenda has offered guidance to EMS providers, healthcare organizations, policy makers, and governmental entities over the last two decades to help make that vision a reality.

This document has been a fundamental component of EMS initiatives across the federal government, and has led to many successes, including the creation of the National EMS Information System, EMS Core Content, EMS Scope of Practice Model, EMS Educational Standards, EMS Workforce for the 21st Century, a National EMS Research Agenda, and the publication of EMS Education Agenda for the Future.

But now it is time for us to get some new ideas on approaching the issues facing EMS, improving those services, and setting a course for the further evolution of EMS systems.

The Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) supports a major revision of the EMS Agenda for the Future. With the new revision, ASPR plans to work closely in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other federal partners, along with external EMS stakeholders to develop an agenda to guide the evolution of EMS systems over the next 30 years.

ASPR and HHS are committed to the integration of emergency medical services into a better, smarter, and healthier healthcare system. We are excited to strengthen EMS every day, and the role of EMS during disaster and public health emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.

Current healthcare reform efforts make this an opportune time to continue advancing EMS and working towards integration of the emergency care system into the broader healthcare system. EMS Week is a perfect time to reflect on how emergency medical services are an integral part of healthcare delivery system reform.

NHTSA, on behalf of FICEMS, is leading the charge to gain public comment on the announcement. NHTSA is looking for input on finding data-driven approaches to future improvements.

Do you have ideas on making the system better? Get details on the solicitation of comments and submit your ideas by June 30, 2016. As we take the time this week to recognize the work that EMS practitioners do every day to protect health and save lives, it is important to consider what future of EMS could entail.


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