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Project Launched to Promote Innovation in Emergency Medical Services


January 07, 2015  |  

UC San Diego Health System, in collaboration with Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, announced today the launch of a new project entitled “Promoting Innovations in Emergency Medical Services.” Supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Health Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health & Human Services, the project will address how to better disseminate and implement innovative Emergency Medical Services (EMS) delivery models, while overcoming persistent regulatory, financial and technological barriers.

UC San Diego Health System and Mount Sinai Health System in New York launch "Promoting Innovations in Emergency Medical Services."

The effort, which will culminate with development of a national framework tool to provide guidance and foster better, more efficient delivery of health care within EMS across the country, is funded by a two-year, $225,000 federal grant.

Co-project directors are James Dunford, Jr., MD, professor emeritus at UC San Diego School of Medicine and EMS medical director for the city of San Diego, and Kevin Munjal, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“Our hope is to engage with a diverse group of stakeholders to create a pathway for the widespread implementation of best practices and delivery system reforms in emergency medical services across the U.S.,” said Munjal.

Experts have long recognized that EMS could serve as a vital link in a coordinated health care system focused on population health management by helping identify and modify risk, assess and facilitate treatment of chronic conditions and improve coordination of care for acute complaints.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for EMS to merge imagination, sound medicine and health information technology to improve care and lower cost,” said Dunford. “Tomorrow’s innovations will likely improve domestic preparedness, increase patient access to care, decrease health care costs and improve community resilience.”

Dunford added that novel urban and rural EMS programs have begun filling gaps in systems of care. Terms such as “community paramedicine” and “mobile integrated health care” are being used to describe how the full clinical, operational and financial capacity of EMS could be harnessed.

As EMS agencies strive to innovate within the current infrastructure, noted Munjal, they face challenges from existing laws, regulations, even fixed mind-sets. He said the project team is aware of the delicate balance between enabling innovation while still protecting public health and safety through regulatory oversight and maintaining a statewide systems approach to the provision of emergency medical care. “State offices of EMS play a vital role in fostering innovation and will be vital stakeholders in this project,” said Munjal, “which seeks to develop model legal, regulatory and financial frameworks to assist and encourage state and local health systems to test new EMS delivery models.”

Key aspects of the project include:

  • Collection of input from EMS and community health care stakeholders from around the country.
  • Regional stakeholder meetings will be held in San Diego and New York in May 2015, with a focus on incorporating national input into overcoming local barriers to EMS innovation.
  • A national steering committee will be convened in Washington, D.C. in September 2015.
  • An iterative approach to drafting materials and soliciting feedback through in-person, telephonic and online encounters with stakeholder groups.
  • Creation of a National Framework Document that will be broadly representative and thoroughly vetted and will be used as a tool to provide a useful pathway to harness the full potential of EMS.

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