Promoting Innovation in EMS

transformation. A favorite quote of mine comes from Henry David Thoreau; I believe this quotation reflects both innovation as well as practical application: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” We need to make it easier to build bridges than silos. Together with our diverse partners, with our institutional knowledge and the experience of our providers in the field, we can work together to truly lead, facilitate change, and foster innovation in EMS.

their agencies provide. Quality in this context does not mean only clinical quality, but financial sustainability, community relations, and employee engagement. Thus, leaders should also be intimately familiar with their care models and cost/revenue streams, and work to find new ways to save costs by adding services that improve care and provide value. Finally, for many agencies, successful innovation is a three-legged stool that depends on EMS leadership, the EMS workforce, and the community the agency serves. It is the responsibility of the leadership to work closely with the workforce and community to understand their needs and demonstrate how potential innovations can improve the value to patients, employees, and other providers. Many innovative projects stall due to resistance from one of the three legs, especially when they already have a shaky relationship. EMS leaders should consider maintaining a good relationship with the workforce and community as an important part of the job, and should collaborate with them proactively. LEGISLATORS AND REGULATORS Legislators and regulators should facilitate EMS inclusion in health care innovation as much as possible. This includes establishing an EMS regulatory board in the state, or if one already exists, delegating appropriate authority to the board to encourage innovative pilot projects. Currently, some states require approval from the legislature to launch pilot programs, which places an undue regulatory burden on innovation. While public safety is the first concern, regulators should be able to allow EMS agencies to test new ideas and provide new, valuable services to their communities under the supervision of local medical direction. Aaron Reinert, NRP, MAOL Executive Director Lakes Region EMS

Thomas Nehring Director, Division of Emergency Medical Systems North Dakota Department of Health

EMS AGENCY LEADERSHIP Most EMS leaders choose their profession

because they recognize the unique opportunity it provides to serve their communities. They consider themselves fortunate be in their positions and are looking for ways to expand the value of their services to their communities. To improve their services successfully, EMS managers must transform from managers to leaders who can guide their agencies and local communities to support and encourage EMS innovation. Leaders should strive to maintain a culture of innovation, and encourage and support providers who work to improve patient care. Leaders should encourage their workforce to question existing structures and constantly be looking for new ways to better serve their communities, even if these services don’t always fit in the traditional role of EMS. They should try to stay up to date with current trends and innovations in the field and support providers in their agencies who want to pursue higher educational opportunities. EMS leaders should also make measuring quality and outcomes a priority, and experiment with interventions that improve the quality of services




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