CORHIO’s Focus on Emergency Medical Services

Date: July 27th, 2018Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, Emergency Services


With Colorado House Bill 1032 signed into law earlier this year allowing data from EMS encounters to be exchanged, CORHIO is dedicated, more than ever, to improving data exchange in the EMS world.

Zeke Peters has stepped into a new role at CORHIO as Director of Emergency Medical Services to develop and build support for new and existing EMS, public health and emergency management uses of CORHIO's Health Information Exchange (HIE).

We caught up with Zeke to ask him what the future of EMS data exchange holds for CORHIO and for the people of Colorado.

CORHIO: What brought you to CORHIO and how will you be helping integrate EMS data into the HIE?

Peters: Over the last few years, I've realized EMS, other healthcare, and public health providers and leaders are missing opportunities to improve quality and efficiency and to broaden the impact of their services by not having EMS data included and available in the up-to-date context the HIE provides.

Two big-picture examples where I think CORHIO HIE–EMS data integration might help are:

1. The Denver Metro EMS community has been frustrated by efforts to implement regional data aggregation and analytics with the National Collaborative for Bio-Preparedness

2. The current patient tracking systems for managing mass casualty incidents are impractical in the field

CORHIO: To your knowledge, is your position unique to most HIEs in the country?

Peters: I'm not aware of another HIE that has staff focused exclusively on emergency services, especially with the broad mandate to explore and develop new and existing EMS, public health and emergency management uses of the HIE. I'm excited CORHIO brought me on board so I could give my complete attention to EMS HIE activities.

CORHIO: What is the benefit to CORHIO sharing EMS data?

Peters: Adding EMS data will lengthen the CORHIO longitudinal patient-care record to include many patients' initial—and sometimes only—contact with the healthcare system. EMS data is often more temporally and geospatially precise than other healthcare and public health data, providing context that supports earlier, more appropriate interventions. CORHIO now has someone to focus specifically on overcoming the hurdles of connecting EMS patient-care reporting systems with the CORHIO HIE. 

Because addressing hazards and disasters often creates compelling cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary needs, I also expect to help identify new opportunities for innovation out of existing CORHIO work.

CORHIO: What background experience do you bring to this role and how do you see it benefitting CORHIO?

Peters: I've been an EMS provider for 28 years and a paramedic for 23. Most of my field experience was at the Denver Paramedic Division but I've worked in six states and about eight EMS systems, in environments ranging from frontier to urban. I've got a good idea of the common challenges faced by EMS providers and leaders trying to do their jobs—particularly with information technology in the field.

So far, my academic background has proven relevant to my CORHIO work. My undergraduate work was primarily in environmental policy. I also did PhD work in the Health Services Organization and Policy Program at the University of Michigan on a U.S. Public Health Service training grant. I ultimately returned to go to law school at the University of Colorado and am a licensed attorney. I'm most interested and skilled in policy work, but I also have the knowledge to get into the legal nuts and bolts when it's needed to keep our projects moving forward.

CORHIO: What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?

Peters: I came to CORHIO with long list of known EMS-related gaps (use cases) I believe CORHIO can positively impact. My list ranges from improved biosurveillance, to identifying vulnerable people and providing appropriate services, to patient tracking and family reunification.

But we need to survey the EMS, public health, emergency management, public safety and broader healthcare communities to understand their full list of needs and potential uses for EMS–HIE data integration, and for help prioritizing those needs and uses to help direct CORHIO's EMS-related work.

To have a significant impact on what I consider the most important EMS problems, we need bidirectional, real-time data exchange between the CORHIO HIE and EMS patient-care-reporting computers in the field. Developing the capability poses community engagement, standards, technology, market and sustainment challenges. But I'm confident we can overcome the challenges once stakeholders realize the full range of possible health and safety benefits from the integration.


Related:  A Big Step Toward Emergency Services Health Information Exchange