PatientCare 360 Enables West Metro Fire Rescue to Expand Services to Community, Increase Revenue

Date: February 14th, 2020Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, PatientCare 360, Emergency Services


This busy fire and rescue service is addressing 911 system overutilization and improving billing processes with CORHIO’s tools.

When Jeremy Metzwas assigned as the West Metro Fire Rescue Division Chief of Emergency Medical Services in 2016 , he was unfamiliar with CORHIO and how a health information exchange could help his organization. Now, he can’t imagine life without it.

“I was first introduced to CORHIO in late 2016 when we were transitioning from a legacy healthcare reporting system to our current electronic health care reporting system. Before that I didn’t really know about HIEs,” Metz says. “I was very intrigued at the time but also a bit skeptical how it would be helpful to my organization. I didn’t know how it was going to work, and I wasn’t even sure CORHIO wanted to collaborate with EMS.”

West Metro Fire Rescue provides services to more than 280,000 residents, covering two counties and 108 square miles. With approximately 385 firefighters and paramedics on staff, the busy agency fields 25,000 calls for emergency medical services; of those, 16,500 are medical transports.

A Transformational Change

In 2017, West Metro Fire Rescue began utilizing CORHIO’s PatientCare 360 for care summary documents -- a change that Metz describes as “transformational.”

“It really helps put the whole picture together for what our care meant in the field and on course to the hospital and beyond,” Metz says.

Like many emergency service providers, West Metro Fire experiences a number of high 911 system utilizers, which often includes individuals who are chronically ill, elderly, or lack resources such as health insurance.

To address the utilization problem and reduce unnecessary ambulance transports and consequent ED visits, West Metro Fire Rescue knew they needed to expand their services and utilize the capabilities of health information exchange. Their new service, called Advance Resource Medic (ARM), launched in May 2018 and has been a resounding success.

Care and Information Right on the Scene

“ARM is an urgent care on wheels staffed by an advanced practice paramedic and nurse practitioner who has access to PatientCare 360,” Metz explains. “We handle a lot of low acuity medical issues including illnesses and injuries – often from the same utilizers. If someone calls 911, our normal crew arrives and triages the patient to determine if they can refer them to our ARM unit.”

The ARM unit can treat patients on the scene, including in their homes or in long-term care facilities. From the unit, staff can use PatientCare 360 to look up the patient’s medical history including tests and lab results, which provider they’ve most recently seen, and more. For frequent 911 utilizers, the ARM unit may return to meet with the patient to understand any barriers they are facing and complete a social needs assessment.

“For one of our patients, our paramedic saw in PatientCare 360 that they were missing their doctor appointments, so we were able to work with them on getting to their doctor. That’s a whole other level of care that has been phenomenal for us. This is very cutting-edge and a great resource for our district,” Metz says.

ARM has been so successful that the district is increasing the unit’s days of operation from four days a week to seven.

A Smoother Billing Process

West Metro Fire Rescue is also using PatientCare 360 to improve their billing process, which has resulted in increased revenues. The organization piloted a new process where they dual-verified the patient’s information from their own patient care report along with patient information in CORHIO instead of automatically sending their records over to their third-party billing vendor.

“Lo and behold we were finding a lot of incomplete demographic info,” Metz says. “Our billing is only as good as the info were getting on scene. But a very high percentage of times we could affect a better billing outcome when we intercepted the report before it went to billing by going into CORHIO. In the past year, we’ve seen our revenue increase by 13 percent.”

While boosting revenue isn’t the focus of a government agency like West Metro Fire Rescue, Metz believes having more accurate information will benefit the patient in the end.

“If we have wrong or incomplete information, we set the billing process for failure, which could create more heartache for patients down the road. Verifying with PatientCare 360 allows us a to create a smoother process for everyone,” he says.