01 November 2013

Fridays from the Archives: Understanding EMS Data Sources

Friday, November 1, 2013: Understanding EMS Data Sources

With Meaningful Use an increasingly important focus of state- and local- public health agencies, the usual suspects of data sources (i.e., hospital-based) seem to be central to most surveillance conversations. However, other data sources, such as those from EMS (Emergency Medical Services) not only offer unique insight, but may also complement streams of emergency department and hospital inpatient data.

In May of 2010 ISDS hosted a presentation, Understanding the Spectrum of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Data Sources and their Variation by Community, that delves in deep to the specifics of EMS data flow, structure, and use.

For instance, did you know that the approaches to recording EMS calls differs widely? Some dispatch centers use an unstructured process, others use a locally developed structured process, while still others use an international standard for structured data

Once the information is in the system, the presenters describe a number of unique ways in which EMS data can help address the growing problem of ambulance diversions in the United States. In particular, they describe the development of a model that can aid EMS and hospitals in better managing the health of the community by predicting diversions and potentially avoiding them altogether. Additionally, presenters describe some drawbacks of EMS data, such as the obstacles in obtaining subsequent hospital outcome data and the limitations of use when the data is aggregated.

Thank you to Todd Stout, Abey Kuruvilla and Christopher Olola for an interesting and informative presentation. A video recording of the full presentation and copies of the slides are available in the ISDS Webinar Archive at: http://www.syndromic.org/component/content/article/31/250

This blog post is the second installment of the series, "Fridays from the Archives". The first post can be accessed here.

Written by Becky Zwickl, MPH, ISDS Public Health Analyst (bzwickl@syndromic.org)

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