A Big Step Toward Emergency Services Health Information Exchange
Colorado House Bill 1032 was signed into law recently, allowing EMS data patient medical records to be securely exchanged with community providers. This was a multi-organization effort including CORHIO, CDPHE, Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, lawmakers, EMS and other healthcare leaders around the state1.
The bill specifically calls for:
- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to make individualized patient information in the Emergency Medical Services Agency Patient Care Database* available to health information networks
- The sharing of patient data must comply with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
What does this mean for Colorado healthcare providers and EMS agencies?
When Colorado EMS providers go on a call, they complete a patient chart, or "trip report," using their EMS agency's patient care reporting system. These agency report-writing systems, from a number of different vendors, send individual patient data to a CDPHE Emergency Medical and Trauma Services (EMTS) Branch database. The data are maintained in an EMS-specific National EMS Information System format and available for internal EMTS regulatory and system-improvement uses.
Before HB 1032, EMTS' authority to share the submitted data outside the agency was very limited - even for legitimate system, patient-care, and public-health improvement activities by HIPAA-qualified agencies and regional bodies.
“CORHIO will now be able to access individual patient data in the EMTS database and help make it accessible and useful for these and many other purposes -- including by translating the data from NEMSIS into other standard health data formats,” says Zeke Peters, CORHIO Director of Emergency Medical Services. “This is an important step in utilizing comprehensive and detailed health data to treat the whole patient – starting with the vital information gathered during prehospital treatment and ambulance transport.”
*EMS providers input data about a patient's condition, services provided, time of services, and other information about an emergency medical situation and response into the database. This data is currently used by the CDPHE to compile and analyze broad-based trends in EMS care in Colorado. The EMS program is funded by a $2 fee on all vehicle registrations.
Read the bill and learn more: House Bill 1032
1 Organizations that supported HB 1032:
Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado (EMSAC)
Colorado Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP)
Colorado Hospital Association (CHA)
American College of Emergency Physicians, CO Chapter (ACEP)
Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials (CALPHO)
Quality Health Network (QHN)