AHRQ’s Health Care Innovations Exchange Focuses on Innovations in Emergency Medical Services
The latest issue of AHRQ’s Health Care Innovations Exchangefeatures profiles of two programs that used innovative strategies to reduce the use of emergency medical services (EMS) by frequent 911 callers, leading to major cost savings and increased capacity in area emergency departments (EDs). A third profile describes a state policy that banned ambulance diversions to other nearby EDs, resulting in reduced ED length of stay and ambulance turnaround time. Onefeatured profile describes a program implemented by San Diego's EMS system to identify individuals who frequently call 911 and arrange for them to receive relevant medical, social service and other interventions that can reduce their future reliance on emergency services. This initiative, known as the Resource Access Program, uses sophisticated health information technology that immediately recognizes and notifies a program coordinator whenever a frequent user of emergency services calls 911. The coordinator, an experienced paramedic, then alerts a network of community stakeholders (for example, physicians, social workers, police officers, case managers, housing providers) and works with them to implement measures to address the caller's immediate and underlying health and social needs. The program has significantly reduced EMS transports for frequent 911 callers, leading to major cost savings.