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.