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NorthStar EMS, Tuscaloosa, AL

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2012, Click to Enter The 2014 American Business Awards

Company: NorthStar EMS, Tuscaloosa, AL
Company Description: Founded April 1, 1992, NEMS is Alabama’s premier ambulance serving eight counties. NEMS provides a full range of medical transportation services: Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Life Support (ALS),Specialty Care Transport (SCT), Neonatal transportation, stretcher/wheelchair van services, EMS education, billing, dispatch and EMS consultation services.
Nomination Category: Business Development Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Business Development Achievement of the Year - Transportation Industries

Nomination Title: Value Differentiation - The Value of Accreditation

Tell the story about this organization's business development achievements since the beginning of July 2013 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

One may never think of an ambulance traveling with red lights flashing and siren wailing as a business, but there are over 17,000 private Emergency Medical Services (EMS) services in the United States. These services typically compete for 911 Emergency markets as well as non-emergency patient transports. The bottom line is that payment for services rendered can only be generated when an actual patient transport occurs. Reimbursement amounts are conditioned on Medicare fee schedules which vary across the country. Therefore in highly competitive markets EMS services must distinguish themselves from the competition in all areas of service delivery. The overall goal is to generate quality patient transports that result in reimbursement.

NorthStar EMS has accomplished two significant goals since July 2013 that has identified us as being in the top 1% of all EMS agencies throughout the United States.

1. NorthStar EMS' Dispatch Center became accredited as an Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE)by the International Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch in December 2013. To achieve this goal required the following:

a) All dispatch personnel participated in a 3-day Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) course ending in an exhaustive examination process resulting in specialized certification in EMD.

b) All computer hardware/software were upgraded with EMD software that is activated when a 911 call is received. It guides the call-taker in asking standardized questions to initiate the correct EMS response while providing the caller with pre-arrival instructions based on the medical complaint.

c) Implementation of CQI processes designed to ensure each dispatcher meet the 90-95% compliance standards in asking the right questions and providing the right instructions. CQI personnel listen to 911 tapes and compare the actual caller interaction with the required standards.

NorthStar EMS is one of 127 EMS Dispatch Centers that are accredited.

2. NorthStar EMS became accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) in June 2014. CAAS is recognized as the "Gold" standard in the ambulance industry. There are over 100 critical standards that must be met to prove a company is worthy of accreditation. Not only is an application for accreditation submitted documenting compliance with all the required standards, but an extension "on-site" audit is completed by CAAS Representatives to ensure the EMS agency is practicing those specific processes that meet the required standards. CAAS standards covered key areas of the business including the overall Organization; Inter-Agency Relations; Management; Finance; Community Services; Safe Operations & Risk Management; Clinical Initiatives; Fleet Management; Equipment; and Communications. Documentation was provided as part of the application to support NorthStar EMS’ adherence to meeting the standards for each section.

Our successful completion of these two goals has resulted in:

1. NorthStar EMS being recognized as one of 3 EMS agencies to become CAAS accredited in Alabama. There are just over 160 CAAS accredited EMS agencies in total in the US.

2. NorthStar EMS is the only ACE (Accredited Center of Excellence) accredited EMS agency in Alabama. There are only 128 ACE accredited agencies world-wide.

3. NorthStar EMS is 1 of only 27 EMS agencies that hold both CAAS and ACE accreditations world-wide.

The growth we have realized by achieving accreditation in these two areas have helped us "differentiate" ourselves from our competition. Medical facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes, also go through rigorous accreditation and audit processes. They tend to want to partner with EMS agencies who show the same level of commitment to meeting national standards for their respective industry.

Accreditation has also forced NorthStar EMS to become a company focused on CQI processes. We are only as good as what we measure! Many KPIs have been developed to measure critical performance which include Business Development strategies conditioned on what is important to our customers, primarily on-time performance (response time compliance is monitored on all calls) and our crew members being friendly/professional (complaints down by 50%).

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