Quick Thoughts from Pinnacle EMS 2011

Good crowd this year of nearly 400 EMS leaders from around the country to share best practices on EMS leadership and performance.  Unfortunately, I arrived a little late yesterday but still managed to get involved in some of the roundtable discussions on “Key Questions for Critical Decisions” where attendees spent 30 minutes at a table discussing best practices on various topics before moving to another topic.  I spent most of my time at the Social Media table and learned that most EMS leaders here have a lot to learn about what social media is even about – let alone how to manage it.  The social media divide is huge!  As an example, just before I arrived here I saw a tweet that Wichita Fire blocked Facebook while the Toronto Police launched a new social media program on the same day.  Further evidence is that a disappointing number of participants are even “tweeting” or “checking-in” to FourSquare here.

The evening plenary last night was presented by Lisa Tofil, a partner at Holland & Knight law firm, who has been very actively involved in the “Field EMS” legislation and kicked things off will an old-school “Schoolhouse Rock” video on how a bill becomes a law.  Her message was that healthcare reform, while not necessarily implemented in its final form, is nevertheless here to stay and we need to look critically at its affect on EMS.  Increasingly, pre-hospital care is being integrated into the comprehensive healthcare system which is being pressured “down and out” from hospitals to ambulatory care agencies and even clinical outlets.  At the same time, the “fee-for-service” model most are currently accustomed to is transforming toward a “single-payer” model of which Medicad will become a much more significant payer source by 2019 as individual insurance policies migrate toward “exchanges”.  The inconsistencies highlighted by the 2007 Dartmouth Atlas have been driving a lot of the discussion in Washington and its implications will be profound for Field EMS agencies.  (BTW, this term of “Field EMS” is becoming an important distinguisher as pre-hospital medical care folds in with the acute care delivered at the hospital as well as the rehab after hospitalization becoming simply “patient-centered”  care, so a new identifier becomes necessary to describe the traditional role of EMS – so learn it and begin to use it!)  There was a great deal of talk about specific legislation and its impacts on Field EMS and while a draft Field EMS bill is likely to be ready today you should not expect it to be introduced until September.  While not perfect, the bill is significant in beginning a conversation advancing major change for EMS such as a national Bureau of EMS/Trauma under HSRA in order to  build clout within a broadening healthcare definition.  Lisa also stressed the importance of an “EMS Trust Fund” and quipped that it may be safer as a “tax return check-off box” than in the appropriations debate.  Her talk concluded with a challenge in the form a question to re-evaluate our own perceptions of the field of EMS.

This morning today began with a motivational presentation by Pinnacle organizer Jay Fitch on “Creating a Courageous EMS Workplace Culture” warning attendees that “life as we know it in EMS is changing” and stressed the necessary qualities to excel in the new environment.  Jay offered many specifics including judgement, authenticity, passion, partnership, preparation, and perseverance with examples for each including tips on hiring appropriate talent.  He concluded in saying that “we are not a family, but a team.”  And that not being a “little league” team, we need to promote “superstars in every position” and not view an EMS career as a “life sentence” but encouraging us that options abound for high-performing people.

While this conference is far from over, this is the tone so far and I look forward to hearing from collegaues on sessions they have attended and meeting new folks at the Tweet-up tonight at 8pm in the Hemisphere lounge.  If you can’t join us, watch for comments to this post adding up-to-date information on proceedings.



Filed under Conferences, Social Media

2 responses to “Quick Thoughts from Pinnacle EMS 2011

  1. Thursday’s opening session was by David White, the CEO of TransCare, on the topic of “The New Wave of EMS Consolidation” which he contrasted from the consolidations that occurred in the US during the early 1990’s. As he summarized later on, the first wave of consolidation in 1992 focused simply on “buying,” while in 2012 the new focus for this round will be on “building.” The distinction being that the newer purchases will be more sophisticated, disciplined, and strategic deals. The emphasis this time will be that companies will be bought as more of an investment looking toward building “platform potential” (such as becoming a “discharge planning solution” focused on patient satisfaction) which will lead to even bigger (Wall St backed) deals. The dynamic of an aging population, a migration from public to private ownership of agencies, and growing demand for non-emergency transports will inevitably lead to increased cooperation with hospitals defining a new macro view of the market demand. With the interest from Wall Street, White predicts with certainty that smaller, rural agencies WILL be bought up. This “new normal” growth potential through consolidation in the era of healthcare reform will be capable of driving even more innovation unlike the previous round of consolidations which left corporations too deep in debt that they stifled innovation and caused fleets to age.

    The public’s confidence, White asserts, in EMS is undermined by squabbles taking place openly in the media between public and private agencies. White told us that it is important that public and private EMS agencies figure out how to cooperate to improve the overall “value” (service and care) that they provide.

    Interestingly, the day I got back to South Carolina from this conference, I sat eating lunch in a small coffee shop when a man entered the store and noticing the “star of life” emblem on my shirt struck up a conversation and offered to sell me his ambulance service. Thank you Mr White for your prophetic words! Now if we can just learn to jointly promote the field…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s