Peeling Back the Layers of the Cost Data Collection Instrument…

Section 4: Emergency Response Time Reporting

Part One

By now you are well aware that the Ground Ambulance Cost Data Reporting mandate has begun.

It’s a law. We must do it. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, especially if your EMS agency has been chosen to report for next year, Round One!

Peeling Back The Layers Of The Cost Data Collection Instrument

Because this whole initiative is generating a lot of questions, we have gotten out in front of this in our billing office (your billing office should be out in front too- if not…call us!) From now to whenever, we are dedicated in providing as much information to you our blog readers about the details of this new “thing” we must do.

Starting with this blog and moving forward, we’ll pick out certain sections of the data collection instrument set-up by CMS to report your EMS agency’s costs that we believe will cause some stress for you and go over what needs to be done.

We draw our knowledge from a few sources that are disseminating the facts- the American Ambulance Association (AAA) and CMS webinars are the two most notable, but also using our unique networking connections with many sources in the industry that we value greatly.

That’s the disclaimer…here we go!

Section 4: Emergency Response Time

If you report that your ground ambulance agency handles emergency/9-1-1 transports, then the online data collection instrument provided by CMS via the RAND Corporation will prompt you to complete this section.

If you provide an answer in Section 1 noting that you do not handle emergencies then this section will not show up. So, those of you who only do non-emergency (scheduled or pre-scheduled) transports will need not worry about this area at all- it won’t even show up for you.

What are they looking for?

First off, CMS defines emergency response time as the time that spans beginning with the Call Intake of the emergency at the 9-1-1 or Public Service Access Point (PSAP) until the responding ambulance or other vehicle arrives at the scene.

Do take note, that while they are pounding home that this is a ground ambulance exercise, for this particular part of the section, CMS does want to know here how long it takes someone in some ground conveyance to be dispatched and arrive at the scene. This can mean squads, fire apparatus, chief cars, bicycles…whatever you use to get form there to here upon initial dispatch. And…you are only reporting here response times for your primary response area- geographically where you are either the exclusive agency responding or the majority responder.

But…CMS will later ask you to report ONLY the ground ambulance responses and only in your primary service area. So, have that number ready when you sit down to begin the online reporting tool process.

That’s their definition and how they prefer that you calculate the time and report it. However, they are fairly allowing for an “Other” definition which you must provide by way of your definition stating openly in the instructions “If you measure response times differently than described…use your approach to report times…”

To end this section, you will also be asked to report the response time for where 90 percent of your emergency responses fall. This is also referred to as the 90th percentile emergency response time and as with the other sub-category questions applies only to runs in your primary service area.

Doing the Calculations

Okay, take deep cleansing breaths- in through the nose, out through the mouth!

Running through your brain now is this question. “How the heck do I come up with these times?”

In theory, it’s pretty easy. In actuality, running the numbers, depending on how many runs your agency handles, may be tricky.

Average Response Time

Calculate the Average Response Time by adding up a sum of the minutes for all of your organization’s responses for the year’s reporting period and then divide that total number of minutes by the total number of responses to arrive at the Average Response time.

90th Percentile Response Time

Calculating this value is a bit more tricky and, as stated before, will become even more tricky the more runs that add up over a year’s reporting period.

But for simplicity purposes, you’ll list out your response times on a timeline, so to speak, look at the highest 10 percent of those responses and report that time average. So, for demonstration, let’s say your agency is reporting 10 responses and the longest response time of all of those 10 calls is 6 minutes. The other times are thrown out, regardless of what those values are, and the 90th Percentile Response Time that will be reported is none other than the 6-minute time.

Easy when there are only 10 responses to report. A bit more complicated when there are 10,000 responses to report. But…you get the picture, I’m sure.

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