By Samantha Hilker
On Tuesday, January 23rd, the EMS Live in Wisconsin podcast featured two guests who, on the surface, were entirely different. Dr. Suzanne Martens, the EMS Medical Director for the State of Wisconsin, spoke to the Physician Advisory Committee’s (PAC) work and plans for 2018 during the shows first segment. In the second half, Joe Kachelski, CEO of Wisconsin Statewide Health Information Network (WISHIN), talked about the new use case for EMS that allows EMS agencies to access the Health Information Exchange for billing purposes. After listening to each guest share their work, the resources now available for EMS, and future plans, it became clear they were sharing a mission: to remove barriers in the delivery of quality patient care.
Dr. Martens and the PAC are working to remove barriers for EMS services across the state by cleaning up language and ensuring resource documents, like the combined scope of practice and paramedic medication list, are up to date and accessible on the Wisconsin EMS website (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/ems/licensing/scope.htm). They are also taking a critical look at the national scope of practice compared to the current scopes of practice for all levels in Wisconsin; in some areas Wisconsin is ahead of the curve while other areas there is room to grow. She also talked about the importance of accessing information and resources on the EMS website, including contact information for all PAC members and meeting dates for the EMS Advisory Board and committees. Provider and service level involvement is vital to the continued progression of EMS in Wisconsin, and the meetings can even view the sessions remotely! All of this information can be found here.
Joe Kachelski and the entire WISHIN team have been working to remove information barriers by building a robust Health Information Exchange in Wisconsin. Care providers, like hospitals and healthcare systems, can access medical history and patient information that may aid them in clinical decision making, particularly in emergency situations when patients may be unable to share the information. They are now expanding access and use of that network to EMS agencies. While EMS agencies may not have the luxury of time and resources to access an electronic health record and review medical history at the time of care, they can certainly benefit from accessing the network and gathering FACE sheet data for billing purposes after the fact. Organizations do have to be registered users to gain access to the health information exchange, but Joe assured us the process is straightforward and he and his team are there to help by giving demonstrations, answering questions via phone or email, and supporting you through the process. You can find more information on the WISHIN network on their website.
Barking dogs aside, the podcast was full of information and is worth 30 minutes of your time. Be sure to check back in February for the next episode featuring Scott Moore, Esq. where we'll be talking about employee incentive programs.