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Evaluating Emergency Medical Services: Controlling the Rising Cost of Saving Lives

JHHSA, Vol. 26 No. 4, (2004)

A combination of recent changes in the way Emergency Medical
Services are reimbursed by Medicare for ambulance services and
escalating costs have prompted many EMS providers to seek new ways
to meet the needs of the communities they serve in a more cost-effec-
tive manner. This article reports one such study of a county in the
Southeastern United States with a population of over 100,000 distri-
buted over an area of 600 square miles. The study used industrial
techniques, including a combination of historical data analysis and time
studies, to recommend ways to cut costs without adversely affecting
either the emergency coverage or patient case provided. Based on usage
data, reducing the number of service units during time of least demand
was suggested. The time studies indicated that it might be possible to
combine some jobs (e.g. billing personnel and dispatchers), The usage
data also showed that the existing geographical distribution of the units
matched demand. The study demonstrated that industrial engineering
techniques can be usefully employed in the evaluation of the efficiency
and effectiveness of public services.

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