St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] was one of only three emergency medical service agencies in the State of Missouri selected last week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS] to take part in a groundbreaking pilot program. The initiative is called Emergency Triage, Treat and Transport – ET3 for short. The model provides greater flexibility for paramedics to address the unique health care needs of patients. Announced by CMS last year, the ET3 model creates a new set of incentives for emergency transport and care, ensuring patients get convenient, appropriate treatment by a variety of providers.
Under current CMS guidelines, patients who dial 911 are typically transported to an emergency department at a hospital, which is unquestionably appropriate in the case of serious medical events such as cardiac arrest, traumatic injury or stroke. In lower-acuity situations, however, alternative treatment options, may be more appropriate and cost-effective for patients, which is where ET3 will come into play.
“For years, EMS agencies have been paid to transport patients to emergency rooms. Under the ET3 framework, our team of 200+ highly-skilled clinicians will have the latitude to confer with lower-acuity patients and perhaps recommend transport to an alternative, lower-cost destination such as an urgent care that can meet their needs,” said SCCAD Assistant Chief David Lewis. “Crews also will have the ability to initiate and facilitate treatment in place by a qualified health care practitioner via telehealth with a tablet device.”
SCCAD paramedics will work with a variety of healthcare partners to facilitate a robust array of options for ET3 patients, including multiple urgent care facilities and hospitals. Ultimately, the initiative will work to reduce avoidable transports to emergency departments and unnecessary hospitalizations.
“Though the initiative was developed with Medicare/Medicaid insurance patients in mind, SCCAD is poised for multi-payer alignment, working with several commercial insurers to deliver enhanced treatment and transport options to their patients,” said Lewis.
ET3 is the latest in a series of cutting-edge EMS initiatives to debut in St. Charles County; in the past three years alone, SCCAD paramedics have launched multiple successful programs to address critical healthcare needs in their community, including the opiate epidemic, special needs pediatric patients, behavioral health emergencies, and hospital readmission avoidance.
204 agencies throughout 36 states selected to take part in ET3 will work over the coming weeks to develop program-specific protocols, with program launch occurring this spring.