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New dashboard highlights quality, safety of EMS care

December 17, 2015

EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services (AHS) has developed a new performance dashboard that will provide the public with information and context about the quality, safety and timeliness of provincial EMS services in an easy to understand way.

The new dashboard contains six performance measures related to the quality and safety of EMS patient care, patient satisfaction and patient volumes.

  1. Provincial EMS Patient Experience (%): The satisfaction rate of surveyed patients’ EMS experience.
  2. Provincial Vital Signs Compliance (%): The rate of electronic patient care records completed by AHS EMS where a complete set of vital signs was documented.
  3. Time to Dispatch First Ambulance (h:mm:ss): The time it takes from when AHS EMS receives a call to when the closest EMS crew is dispatched.
  4. Response Time for Life-Threatening Events: The time it takes from when AHS EMS receives a call, to when the first EMS crew arrives on scene. This measure is reported by four population classifications:
    1. Metro/Urban: large communities including Edmonton, Calgary, and the five major urban centres of Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat and surrounding areas.
    2. Communities: Greater than 3,000 population (excluding Metro/Urban communities).
    3. Rural: Less than 3,000 population and closer than 200 kilometres from a Metro/Urban centre.
    4. Remote: Less than 3,000 population and further than 200 kilometres from a Metro/Urban centre.
  5. EMS Hospital Time: The time from when an EMS crew arrives at a hospital emergency department until that crew is available to respond to another call.
  6. Provincial Event Volume: The number of events EMS responds to, by type of event (emergency events, non-emergency events and patient transfers).

“These measures reflect key areas within EMS that are important measurements of patient safety and care,” says Darren Sandbeck, Senior Provincial Director EMS and Chief Paramedic. “The dashboard will be used to guide work around improving the quality, safety and timeliness of EMS care.”

There are currently no national or internationally-recognized targets for any of the six performance measures. Targets were determined based on best practice, local knowledge and EMS experience.

A range of measures were selected to provide a more complete snapshot of the quality and safety of patient care, patient satisfaction with care, and patient volumes within EMS. Response times are only one indication of system performance.

AHS EMS is exceeding targets in three of the five measures where a target has been set, including response times for life-threatening events. No target has been set for provincial EMS event volume.

For the two measures where EMS is not currently meeting targets, performance is improving in time to dispatch first ambulance and work continues on improvement of EMS Hospital Time.

“The dashboard shows that overall, Albertans receive safe, quality EMS care – but there is always room for improvement. Making the dashboard public is part of our ongoing clinical improvement work,” says Sandbeck. “We want every patient to have a positive experience and receive the best possible care from EMS; that is what they expect and deserve.”

The measures and associated targets will be updated online quarterly and reviewed annually to ensure they continue to be realistic and challenging.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Don Stewart
AHS Communications
403-943-1210 (office)
403-471-4010 (mobile)