Measuring quality and effectiveness of prehospital EMS

Prehosp Emerg Care. 1999 Oct-Dec;3(4):325-31. doi: 10.1080/10903129908958963.


Introduction: In today's health care environment, the demand for objective comparative information about the performance of health care organizations and providers has created a need for data-driven evaluation processes. In response, national organizations and federal agencies have established quality indicators, created tools to measure performance according to those indicators, and issued report cards for individual providers, as well as health care organizations.

Purpose: Emergency medical services (EMS) systems are no different from other health care systems in the need for objective comparative system information to assist government officials at all levels in establishing relevant policy, selecting appropriate system design, and monitoring system quality and effectiveness. Governmental decision makers, payers, and consumers are demanding objective evidence that they are receiving value and quality for the cost of EMS. EMS systems administrators also require objective feedback about performance that can be used internally to support improvement efforts and externally to demonstrate accountability to the public and other stakeholders. To date, there are few validated indicators of effectiveness and quality in EMS systems. Moreover, most potential indicators have not been studied for use in systemwide evaluation. As a result, there are no universally accepted methods of measurement. The following paper examines traditional efforts to assure quality in EMS systems, while assessing the need to go beyond the traditional to establish measurable indicators of system quality. Valid and measurable indicators will provide a basis for establishing benchmarks of performance. In the future, these benchmarks will facilitate comparisons of a system with itself, as well as with other systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*