Assessing satisfaction and quality in the EMS/HEMS working relationship

Air Med J. 2013 Nov-Dec;32(6):338-42. doi: 10.1016/j.amj.2013.05.007.


Background/objective: Treatment provided to critically ill and injured patients during air medical transport bridges initial local emergency medical service (EMS) treatment and the care provided upon arrival to the emergency department. Transition of care from EMS to air medical service includes multiple elements, many of which have been previously undefined. These include operational details surrounding the handoff and attention to issues of continuity in patient care. The purpose of this study is to pilot the development of survey instrumentation to measure key elements of quality in the interaction between EMS and air medical crews.

Methods: A focus group of 12 individuals, including rural and urban EMS providers, medical directors, administrators, and air medical transport providers, defined the activities involved in the working relationship between EMS and air medical transport. Ideas were refined into statements and placed into a 16-item Likert scale questionnaire distributed to EMS agencies throughout Ohio. Exploratory factor analysis was performed to identify subscales within the questionnaire.

Results: 380 questionnaires were returned over 2009, 2010, and 2011. Factor analysis of the initial responses from 2009 revealed themes similar to those identified by the focus group: patient care, user-friendly helicopter EMS (HEMS) operations, response time accuracy, operational feedback, and general system issues. The measure had good internal reliability, with alphas for subscales in the 0.85-0.88 range. A modified questionnaire used in 2010 and 2011 actually performed as a single scale.

Conclusion: Using qualitative and quantitative approaches, a survey instrument was developed to assess satisfaction with HEMS care from the EMS provider's perspective. Evaluating the EMS perspective on the working relationship with HEMS is a new field of discovery for the air medical transport industry and process improvement activities.

MeSH terms

  • Air Ambulances / standards*
  • Colorado
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Patient Handoff / standards*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires