EMS 2018 — a wake up call

CarolinaFireJournal - Tim Wojcik
Tim Wojcik
01/11/2011 -

I recently attended the National EMS Educator’s Symposium in Chicago where the keynote address was all about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. You may know this better as the infamous “Healthcare Reform Act.” Although EMS (in its current form) is only mentioned four times in the entire 1900 pages, I think it is safe to say that we might be on the edge of a substantial change to how we operate.

Imagine working for a system where the public has a right to know your IV stats and the percentage of your patients that don’t quite make it.


IMAGINE working for a system where the public has a right to know your IV stats and the percentage of your patients that don’t quite make it.

Imagine your service getting reimbursed for the “nice” things you do for your patients like moving furniture and rugs, fixing broken railings and proactively stopping by and asking Ms. Jones if she took her sugar pill (even though she didn’t call an ambulance).

Imagine never having a sick patient refused because they are worried about the bill.

Imagine your service NOT getting paid because you didn’t do anything to prevent repeat calls.

Imagine EMS (Emergency Medical Service) as being part of a much more broad “Out of Hospital Care System” where we give immunizations and maybe even suture in the field.

Imagine this system employing “Paramedic Preventionists” (much like fire preventionists). These folks would go out and do things to prevent falls and repeat calls to the same patient as their primary role.

Imagine this system employing “Paramedic Follow Up Specialists” who check on patients in the first days after discharge (and getting reimbursed for it!).

Imagine this system employing a “Paramedic Referalist” who can direct care away from the ER and to the proper provider.

Imagine your child’s school employing a “School Resource Medic” instead of a nurse.

I realize at this point that I have pretty much just teased you without giving you a whole lot of details. In the limited space that I have here, I really just wanted to tell you to wake up. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will not be fully implemented until 2018, but there is a LOT going on in EMS already. The ideas that I mentioned above are becoming increasingly popular subjects in the trade journals and at conferences. This stuff is coming guys. Maybe not as I have presented exactly, but change is in the wind, and if you are not paying attention, you might just find yourself blown away.

My point today is not to tell you all about the changes but to get your attention. Regardless of your feelings on health care reform, you had better get ready. This situation presents us with a huge opportunity to better ourselves, create more career paths and ultimately better serve our customers — but only if we are the ones driving the changes.

As strange as these things sound, consider that when I started EMS, “D-Sticks” were the only option for a Bgl, the patient’s skin color served as our pulse ox and the LP 10 was the bomb cause I could monitor in three leads!

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