First Responders Utilizing HIE for Quality Improvement Training

Date: June 3rd, 2015Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: Emergency Services

South Metro Fire Rescue Authority is using CORHIO for more timely – and more relevant – quality improvement training after emergency calls.

South Metro Fire Rescue Authority (SMFRA) is the emergency and prevention service provider in south Denver for close to 200,000 residents. It’s a large operation with 17 stations, 65 vehicles and more than 300 firefighters. With so many moving parts and personnel, the leadership at SMFRA are always looking for ways to improve processes, like staff training. Late last year, they joined the CORHIO Health Information Exchange (HIE) network so they could receive real-time hospital and lab information via the secure web portal. They are now using the HIE to improve patient care and develop immediate after-call quality improvement training with paramedics.

More Timely and Relevant Training for Paramedics

All of South Metro Fire Rescue Authority’s firefighters are trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and more than a third are paramedics, which requires a higher level of training. To prepare for ongoing medical team training, previous to joining CORHIO, SMFRA had to call hospitals and ask for follow-up patient information.

“In the pre-hospital world, every time you want follow up, you have to talk to a coordinator and ask them to research and send everything that happened with patient X,” says EMS Bureau Chief Rick Lewis. “Then usually a few days later, you get a distillation of everything that happened, but it’s written in the coordinator’s terms, with what they choose to include.”

Because SMFRA is now on the CORHIO network and can query for data on what happened to a patient after an emergency call, they’re able to tailor paramedic training based on that real-time information. “With CORHIO, it’s instant – you can see the nurse’s notes, doctor’s notes, lab values, radiology reports – and that casts a different spin on it than sometimes the coordinators do. We know what we’re looking for.”

SMFRA has developed immediate one-on-one training sessions with paramedic teams to go over what happened during any call where the CORHIO-informed follow-up showed that something could have been done better. And conversely, they use the information to tell paramedics that a patient they treated is recovering nicely – perhaps after a particularly tough call. “Nothing is more gratifying than being able to tell that patient’s crew that the patient made it out of ICU or is now out of surgery.”

The training is now more relevant because of the data from CORHIO. “Now we know exactly what happened and we can design a training that’s really poignant and timely. These one-on-one sessions are the most effective training we do. They’re a lot more effective than waiting a month and doing the training for everybody. This allows us to make more subtle changes and corrections in the way our department runs emergency calls.”

Big Plans for Improvements Using HIE

South Metro Fire Rescue Authority is hoping to play their part in filling in information gaps to improve patient care. They see CORHIO as an avenue for not only receiving data, as they do now, but for sending information on a patient into the community health record or to an alerting system at the hospital. “We want our information to transmit to the hospital when we’re on the way with the patient.”

SMFRA also envisions using CORHIO to access patient historical data on the way to an emergency call. “Having real-time medical information in the vehicle – that will be the most powerful link – and this will change our business.”