By Akshay Birla
The number of new daily COVID-19 cases is an all-time high, and the number of hospitalizations continues to increase. Hospitals are actively diverting patients, and coordination with EMS on patient transfers is once again becoming a challenge.
To meet this challenge head on, public health departments and hospital emergency preparedness staff across the country use EMResource. Providing timely data, command center coordinators and patient access centers can anticipate incoming patient volume and EMS, and other partners, can direct patients to places with the appropriate capacity to meet critical needs. Since the 9/11 commission identified the need for coordination among healthcare providers, EMResource has been implemented in over half of the US. Based on our recent conversations with public health experts and hospital emergency management coordinators across the country, here are five ways to use EMResource data to more effectively fight COVID-19.
Increase Data Velocity
Most states and HHS have daily reporting requirements for bed data. However, in a crisis, yesterday’s or “earlier today’s” data is not good enough. For example, a hospital that had 10 beds at 8 am may not have any bed capacity by noon. In the frantic search to find hospitals for patients, coordinators are spending valuable time to search for capacity.
There are two solutions to combat this challenge – first, by updating EMResource when your hospital can no longer accept patients, you can save others valuable time. Second, by using the API to automate data flow into EMResource, you can provide up-to-date information for others to use. Some hospitals update bed capacity information very 15 minutes, and states such as Texas and Wisconsin have elected to enable state-wide API access to all hospitals to improve coordination.
It isn’t enough to have data; others must trust that it is credible and actionable. For example, if a coordinator is told that there are 10 beds available by the coordinator on the phone but the EMS team responsible for transfers provides feedback that there aren’t any beds available, it can sometimes appear as though the hospital is obfuscating information to gain market share.
Trust is the currency for effective teamwork, so ensure that you communicate clearly what availability means. Do you have 10 beds available right now? Or are you able to take up to 10 patients knowing that you can staff them in a few hours? Adherence to common definitions builds trust with coordinators responsible for directing traffic. Taking time to check in and build personal relationships with external partners increases the odds that they will give you the benefit of the doubt.
Revisit the Rules
EMResource allows you to choose what data to share, and with whom, across the healthcare delivery spectrum. In times of emergency, data that would otherwise be considered private – such as availability data – can be shared if the administrators so choose. We encourage our clients to work with coalitions, regions, and provider partners to confirm that the data sharing settings are appropriate for this time. Data that you may not have shared pre-COVID, such as granular availability data, may be appropriate to share during this time. Public health partners: if you give hospitals the option to enable such information sharing, they are likely to be amenable during this time. When this pandemic ends, you may revert to keeping this data private.
Expand the Tent
EMResource data is highly actionable when the right stakeholders are provided access. For example, by providing selected EMResource data to law enforcement, some jurisdictions have been able to reduce police time spent by escorting patients to psychiatric facilities with known bed or service availability available. Several states allow EMS to use their EMResource instance to collect data on supplies, ensuring appropriate PPE availability and adequate preparedness for pre-hospital emergency response. Similarly, public health entities may enable access to EMResource to school districts to collect relevant school data that can be used to inform reopening or closure decisions.
Leverage the Juvare Exchange Network
Finally, Juvare Exchange allows you to access information from multiple Juvare systems – eICS, EMResource, EMTrack, and WebEOC – as well as curated third–party systems such as the National Weather Service, National Shelter System, traffic and road closure information from HERE.com, and Health Alerts direct from CDC’s HAN. This comprehensive situational awareness is powerful, both for boots on the ground making tactical decisions, as well as the partners seeking broad situational awareness while coordinating the overall response. To enable this network for use during the pandemic we are waiving Juvare Exchange SaaS fees for our public health and healthcare clients.
Together, we can improve our fight against COVID-19 and limit the damage that this pandemic causes to our communities. As many of our partners have realized, the years of investment in their preparedness initiatives is paying off, and through thick and thin, Juvare has your back.