Calculating the cost of an emergency medical services (EMS) system using a standardized method is important for determining the value of EMS. This article describes the development of a methodology for calculating the cost of an EMS system to its community. This includes a tool for calculating the cost of EMS (the "cost workbook") and detailed directions for determining cost (the "cost guide"). The 12-step process that was developed is consistent with current theories of health economics, applicable to prehospital care, flexible enough to be used in varying sizes and types of EMS systems, and comprehensive enough to provide meaningful conclusions. It was developed by an expert panel (the EMS Cost Analysis Project [EMSCAP] investigator team) in an iterative process that included pilot testing the process in three diverse communities. The iterative process allowed ongoing modification of the toolkit during the development phase, based upon direct, practical, ongoing interaction with the EMS systems that were using the toolkit. The resulting methodology estimates EMS system costs within a user-defined community, allowing either the number of patients treated or the estimated number of lives saved by EMS to be assessed in light of the cost of those efforts. Much controversy exists about the cost of EMS and whether the resources spent for this purpose are justified. However, the existence of a validated toolkit that provides a standardized process will allow meaningful assessments and comparisons to be made and will supply objective information to inform EMS and community officials who are tasked with determining the utilization of scarce societal resources.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine