TRENTON – Senate Health Chairman Joseph F. Vitale, Assembly Health Chairman Herb Conaway Jr., and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon announced new legislation to establish a system to track and analyze EMS response to medical emergencies, including to residents suffering from an opioid overdose.
The bill (S-5/A-4925), to be introduced today in the Senate, establishes certain requirements for emergency medical services providers and dispatch centers to report to the state. Under the bill, each EMS provider that provides pre-hospital emergency medical care to patients in the state – including basic life support ambulance services, mobile intensive care units, air medical services and volunteer and non-volunteer first aid, rescue and ambulance squads – will be required to report to the Department of Health certain information concerning each incident in which the entity provides emergency medical services.
“Enhanced data tracking is essential to improving the EMS system of care in our state. With technological advancements, we now have the ability to collect patient data and to utilize it to improve outcomes and efficiencies and to realize cost savings,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “This system of data collection will also result in real-time benefits, helping to ensure hospitals are aware of an incoming patient’s treatment needs and better prepared to address them upon arrival. It will also help to identify trends in certain types of interventions, such as the use of naloxone, so that our health care professionals can improve their responses to overdose incidents, including those that may be caused by tainted or unusually potent opioids that may crop up at certain time periods or in a given geographic area in our state.”
“This data tracking would go a long way toward improving EMS care throughout our state, benefiting everyone. In this day and age, technology can and should be used to improve patient care and outcomes, while also saving money,” said Assemblyman Conaway (D-Burlington). “With so much uncertainty surrounding our nation’s health care system these days, anything we can do to improve patient care and save money is common sense.”
“Consistent collection of data allows analysis of patient care quality and the performance of the emergency medical system,” said O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Data is a critical component for healthier communities and lowering the overall cost of care. In light of the rampant opioid epidemic, now more than ever we need a reliable, responsive EMS system that works seamlessly with hospitals to ensure emergency care leads to the best-possible patient outcomes. Statewide data from EMS providers will target support for the communities that need it most.”
The report would be required to include information such as the date, time, and location of the encounter, the nature of the emergency, including the number of people involved, the outcome of the encounter, including whether each person was treated, refused additional treatment, was transported to a hospital or health care facility or another EMS provider, or if any person died. EMS dispatch centers would also be required to report certain information such as time, date and location of the request for services as well as the nature of the circumstances of the emergency, and the EMS provide dispatched.
The state Health Commissioner would be required to establish a system to allow for the electronic reporting of EMS dispatch and response information pursuant to the bill. The purpose of the electronic reporting system is to record and track data concerning the types of medical emergencies for which emergency medical services are requested, patterns in timing and location of requests for emergency services, patterns in the type of nature of emergency medical services provided and patterns in dispatch and response activity.
Additionally, 24 months after the effective date of the bill, the commissioner will have the option to track and record response times for EMS providers. The commissioner, in consultation with the currently constituted Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council, will be required to adopt rules and regulations establishing quality performance metrics and pre-hospital protocols for emergency medical service providers which will be based on the data that was tracked under the bill.
Finally, the bill requires to commissioner to establish, maintain and coordinate the activities of the New Jersey Emergency Medical Services Task Force, which will support and enhance the provision of specialized response services, utilizing personnel and equipment to respond to pre-planned and emergency events, including natural disasters and other incidents.