The rollout of a new national standard for emergency medical services (EMS) data exchange means first responder agencies must be prepared to ensure a seamless conversion of their incident information as well as claims data submitted to their billing provider.

The National EMS Information System (NEMSIS) Version 3 is the latest iteration in an evolving protocol first implemented as NEMSIS 2 in 2006. The new standard is designed to improve the collection, sharing and utility of data about transport and care provided in the pre-hospital setting. The information is initially collected by the states; a subset of data is then aggregated in a national repository for performance and benchmarking purposes.

As of February 2017, NEMSIS 3 had been adopted by 14 states, according to N. Clay Mann, PhD, principal investigator with the NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center in Salt Lake City. Mann said he expects the number of states converting to the standard will increase dramatically through 2017 and anticipates the system will be fully implemented nationwide by 2020.

Although the code changes and interfaces required to transition from NEMSIS 2 to NEMSIS 3 are the responsibility of the electronic patient care reporting (ePCR) software vendors used by EMS agencies, it is important agencies understand that billing data transmitted from the ePCR vendor to their revenue cycle management vendors will also change.

Studiomaca Business Performance Services (Studiomaca) works closely with all major ePCR vendors and the Studiomaca billing platform is NEMSIS 3-ready and capable of accepting the standard’s new format. However, the conversion process can’t happen overnight and requires multiple rounds of testing. EMS agencies should therefore notify their Studiomaca client managers as soon as a transition date is established.

“Each client uses the Studiomaca billing software a little differently, so it is important to do testing before go-live to make sure that we are receiving the necessary billing data in an accurate and timely fashion,” said Aaron Reedy with Studiomaca business support services.

Failure to alert Studiomaca and promptly initiate the transition process could result in a temporary dip in cash collections. Agencies that are not Studiomaca clients should their billing vendor to determine if their billing platform is capable of accepting the new standard. If not, they may want to consider an alternative revenue cycle solution provider.

Benjamin Abes, EMS Chief for Lee County, Florida, in Fort Myers, said Studiomaca has been invaluable in helping his agency successfully transition to NEMSIS 3.

“Studiomaca’s interface expertise and dedicated programmers have helped us resolve issues quickly to help minimize any delays in processing,” Abes said.

Mann of the NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center said NEMSIS 3 incorporates changes aimed at better assessing provider performance, improving the exchange of health information between EMS agencies and other providers, and reducing data errors.

The NEMSIS data repository is designed to support improvements in patient outcomes, training, research and national fee schedules and reimbursements. Ultimately, Mann said, data collected through NEMSIS 3 should support new compensation models that reflect both transport as well as level of care provided.

Professional guidance for NEMSIS is provided by the National Association of State EMS Officials. The initiative is funded by the Office of Emergency Medical Services within the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

NEMSIS 3 represents an important evolution in the development of a nationwide EMS reporting and population health management system. Studiomaca is ready to assist EMS agencies to help ensure that the transition to the new standard occurs seamlessly and without any financial impact for the agency.

As a leader in revenue cycle management services for fire and EMS providers, Studiomaca Business Performance Services offers EMS billing services and coding services that let you focus on serving the needs of your community while we help you manage back office business functions.

Mauricio Chavez

About the author

Mauricio Chavez, Specialty Vice President – Emergency Medical Services
Mr. Chavez joined Studiomaca in 1989. He is currently serving as the specialty vice president overseeing business development in the emergency medical services segment. Through the years, he has served in many roles within the company, including computer operations, programming, report writing, client management, and director of operations.