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Data Interoperability Enabling the Future of Emergency Patient Care

Posted By Tim Grapes, Thursday, May 24, 2018

The IJIS Institute and its Member companies recognize the value of widespread adoption of data exchange standards to improve emergency and disaster management. The Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) Suite of standards, published by the Standards Development Organization (SDO) OASIS, enables data sharing in support of multi-jurisdictional emergency support functions. One of these functions is emergency patient care and tracking.

The IJIS Institute is helping the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) to advance state, local, and federal adoption of three OASIS data exchange standards. Kevin McGinnis of NASEMSO highlighted the proposed effort as, “addressing a critical flaw in the nation’s efforts to respond quickly and effectively to disasters involving casualties and responders from multiple jurisdictions.” 

Government agencies have their own budget cycles and decision-making; they purchase or build their own emergency and disaster support systems which do not share data. During local and mass casualty incidents, first responder agencies from multiple jurisdictions and disciplines devolve to manual, paper-based, slow, and error-prone processes causing confusion, delays, and added stress for patients, families, and response organizations. 

The good news is that the standards needed to solve this problem are ready. A few years ago, while leading a national Practitioner Steering Group under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, we established the EDXL roadmap, defined the requirements, and participated in the OASIS standardization process. Not only are the standards ready, OASIS and Health Level 7 (HL7) have jointly released them for use between emergency practitioners and care facilities, such as hospitals. 

Testing these data exchanges was successful and the operational benefits have been proven during live, large-scale, multi-jurisdictional patient movement exercises. But a standard isn’t a standard unless it is adopted and used. So why has adoption been sluggish, and what’s new? 

The practitioner group that originally drove standardization has re-energized the effort to support adoption and implementation of real-time emergency patient data exchange through government grant guidance and purchasing practices. The project will demonstrate cost-effective patient tracking, hospital preparedness, family notification and reunification, and enable emergency hospital evacuation through local data exchange development. 

Operationally, it will demonstrate local data exchange running automatically behind the scenes, freeing key resources for more urgent tasks, while improving preparedness and response. It will allow jurisdictions and professions across the entire emergency medical continuum of care to continue daily use of their own locally-operated systems and automatically scale to support mass casualty incidents and events with no additional user training.

These objectives will be accomplished through cross-jurisdiction governance, outreach and education, a third-party standards conformance program, pilots, demonstrations and live patent movement exercises, and transition planning for operational support. Ultimately, our plan creates a repeatable model and standards roadmap that will be endorsed by SAFECOM, and applied to subsequent standards development and adoption priorities such as the OASIS Hospital Availability Exchange (HAVE). This crawl-walk-run approach delivers immediate local value while streamlining subsequent efforts.

The IJIS Institute and NASEMSO call for the support and participation of industry in the adoption and use of the OASIS EDXL Tracking of Emergency Patients (TEP V1.1) standard.

For more information or to get involved in this effort, contact me at


Tags:  EDXL  OASIS  OASIS EDXL Tracking of Emergency Patients  patient tracking  standards 

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