Don’t say you don’t have data. Even the most modest, bare-bones EMS operation has numerical information flowing at it constantly: call volumes, response times, patient care reports. The question really is, what are you doing with it?
Hopefully something. It’s the mandate of system leaders—ethically and, increasingly, financially—to absorb that information about their performance and parlay it into better operations and care.
An advanced EMS operation like the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) in Richmond, VA, can collect worlds of data and subject it to sophisticated statistical analysis to dissect performance and measure improvements. But it’s a simple maneuver the service performed with a couple of very basic metrics that really illustrates how data can be used to the advantage of any proactive system.
RAA closely tracks its demand and knows where it comes from and when. It also knows and controls who it has in the field and where they’re posted. By integrating those values, it tailored staffing to demand in a way that lets calls be answered promptly, but without unneeded resources sitting idle.
“We’re a high-performance EMS system, so we deploy the right amount of trucks that our demand says we’ll need,” says RAA’s chief operating officer, Rob Lawrence. “Under other models you might have 20 stations with 20 24-hour shifts going on, no matter what the demand is doing."
That’s an inefficiency most jurisdictions can’t afford. Thus EMS systems need to work to identify and occupy that slim margin between over- and under providing.