As I was going to be in Dallas for the Fire Rescue conference, I decided to go a little early and pay a visit to MedStar Mobile Healthcare (the renown “birthplace of Mobile Integrated Healthcare”) just over in Fort Worth, Texas. For anyone who may not have been paying attention to the industry during the last few years, community paramedicine has become a hot topic at conferences for EMS systems that are looking to fill a gap in the healthcare needs of the community. Significant savings can be realized just in reducing transport demand, especially by “loyal EMS customers”, but additional cost avoidance is available to the hospital in preventing re-admittances. If you are looking for additional information about implementing a similar program, Matt Zavadsky, director of public affairs at MedStar Mobile Healthcare, has written an excellent description of Community Paramedicine and why it’s the future of our profession.
There is really no doubt that EMS as a practice is changing. However, Paramedics and EMTs will always be critical in responding to emergency calls for service, but MedStar has helped show that they can also be effective in using their skills far beyond that traditional role. While it was the MedStar reputation for innovation in delivering high performance EMS related services that enticed me to visit, I was really most impressed by the back-end systems that keep the care providers on the road and doing their job effectively. Community Care Paramedics like Jimmy Aycox, pictured here with his Panasonic Toughbook, rely on the MARVLIS Client software not only for accurate routing information but also patient details presented from the CAD for filling out patient care reports.
But what makes it all work in the field actually starts in the dispatch center, whether the calls are emergent or scheduled. Technology is a critical piece used to find the right resource and route the closest paramedics to the right call. In many routing systems, the travel impedance (the factor that tries to model the real-life movement of a vehicle) is based simply on speed limits to calculate the time required to move from one intersection to another. These systems are static and do not account for various traffic patterns throughout the day or any seasonal variations such as school being in or out of session. Then there is also the issue of planned road closures or closures due to accidents that can also significantly affect navigation. In this news story about MedStar, the problem with traffic and road closures is highlighted along with their response in employing new technology to account for these issues. During my visit, System Status Controller, Stacey Sokulsky told me that their “older GPS technology could be up to 2 minutes off [in predicting drive times], but I have not seen MARVLIS be off by more than 10 or 15 seconds.” This can make a big difference in selecting which vehicle to dispatch.
Having the right tools makes the job much easier and allows progressive systems like MedStar Mobile Healthcare to do more outside of the traditional role and thinking. Thanks for letting me get a peek at the heart of your system.