Governor Chris Christie on Friday signed a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon that brings New Jersey’s Emergency Medical Services into the 21st century by requiring the use of technology for data collection by first responders to deliver the best emergency medical care possible.
“For too long, the emergency medical services system in New Jersey has existed without an overarching mandate to collect the kind of information that is needed in today’s rapidly evolving health care and emergency environments. When calls come into 911 and lives are on the line, we now have the opportunity to collect and assess valuable information that will continually improve the quality of EMS,” said O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “This bill puts the patient first, ensuring the best possible care leads to better post-emergency outcomes.”
The bill (A4925) was advocated by a long list of bipartisan collaboration of legislators and stakeholders from EMS, dispatchers, doctors and hospitals. The measure establishes uniform data collection and reporting requirements for emergency medical service providers and dispatch centers. The goal is to improve patient outcomes and better understand the continuity of care that the patient receives.
“The consistent collection of data allows analysis of patient care quality and the performance of the entire scope of the emergency medical system. Solid data is critical for healthier communities and reducing the overall cost of care,” said O’Scanlon. “The EMS community is virtually always on call, always striving to make improvements with their quality of care administered. They understand that we can’t improve what we don’t measure. Their support of this legislation demonstrates the ceaseless and tireless commitment they make to our state every day.”
O’Scanlon noted data tracking and reporting can help expedite treatment at the hospital, where health care professionals can determine the medical needs of a patient before the ambulance arrives at the emergency room. The real-time exchange of data can expose recurring medical emergencies, trends in timing and locations, and patterns in emergency dispatch and response.
The information required by the legislation will also provide a powerful tool in combating a growing opioid epidemic in New Jersey.
“In light of the rampant opioid epidemic, now more than ever we need a reliable, responsive EMS system that works seamlessly with hospitals to secure life-saving treatment. This data will help EMS providers support the communities that need it most. It will ensure that the any overdose medication that is administered is properly recorded,” O’Scanlon said.
Some information is already collected by squads and hospitals internally, but there are presently no uniform metrics assessed and shared with the Department of Health.
The bipartisan bill requirements include:
— All EMS providers report specific detailed information concerning each incident to the Department of Health.
— EMS dispatch centers report to DOH information about each request for emergency medical response.
— Establishing a system for the electronic reporting of EMS dispatch and response information.
— Adopting rules and regulations for performance metrics and protocols of EMS providers.
— Establishing the New Jersey Emergency Medical Services Task Force to support and enhance specialized response services.
O’Scanlon said that funding will be available through the Department of Highway Traffic Safety for volunteer EMS squads to purchase the required hardware, if necessary. “Volunteer EMS squads provide an tremendous service to their communities. This new law will result in their enhanced ability to save lives. In now way will these generous volunteers be burdened to have to raise funds to comply with the implementation of this law.”
“The software for this program does not require a lot of computing power, ” O’Scanlon continued,”and most squads already have sufficient hardware to implement the program. For those who need assistance, we’ll make sure they get it.”