The demands on emergency services have grown relentlessly, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has asserted the need for "regionalized, coordinated, and accountable emergency care systems throughout the country." There are large gaps in the evidence base needed to fix the problem of how emergency care is organized and delivered, and science is urgently needed to define and measure success in the emerging network of emergency care. In 2010, Academic Emergency Medicine convened a consensus conference entitled "Beyond Regionalization: Integrated Networks of Emergency Care." This article is a product of the conference breakout session on "Defining and Measuring Successful Networks"; it explores the concept of integrated emergency care delivery and prioritizes a research agenda for how to best define and measure successful networks of emergency care. The authors discuss five key areas: 1) the fundamental metrics that are needed to measure networks across time-sensitive and non-time-sensitive conditions; 2) how networks can be scalable and nimble and can be creative in terms of best practices; 3) the potential unintended consequences of networks of emergency care; 4) the development of large-scale, yet feasible, network data systems; and 5) the linkage of data systems across the disease course. These knowledge gaps must be filled to improve the quality and efficiency of emergency care and to fulfill the IOM's vision of regionalized, coordinated, and accountable emergency care systems.
2010 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.