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Editors' Expressions: It’s Time for EMS to Demand Solid Evidence

"Editors' Expressions" is a recurring feature in which the EMS World editorial staff ruminates on current news, noteworthy events and everyday happenings with relevance to healthcare and EMS delivery. Feel free to react in the comment box below or e-mail editor@emsworld.com.

In the editorial world, content is king, but to many others, including those in epidemiology and infectious disease, data is king. And right now, we are in desperate need of more of it. As the COVID-19 illness continues its global spread, we in EMS—like our healthcare colleagues along with us—are learning on the fly how to protect ourselves, conduct our assessments, provide our treatments and determine our transport options.

First it was surgical or N95 mask. Then it was droplet or airborne. Answers to these questions have profound impacts on the general public and other healthcare professionals, but even more of an effect on prehospital professionals working in uncontrolled environments. Yet little to no data is available to help us make decisions based on any sound evidence.

Clinical medicine has always demanded it and now we in EMS should do the same. We need data. Yes, the coronavirus is novel, so data is hard to come by. Despite this, we must find ways to break down barriers and share data quickly and effectively to save lives. What was learned in China? What was learned in Europe? What have we learned here in our U.S. ‘hotspots”?  What barriers allowed the virus to transmit so much faster than the data?

Many companies are pivoting their business models in the face of COVID-19. One is Medical Intelligence Ltd. (MEDINT). Based in Israel, MEDINT brings the capabilities of medical professionals, scientists and researchers together to provide patients and their physicians with insights into the most up-to-date available treatment options for complex diseases based on evidence-based medicine.

As with many Israeli companies, MEDINT has its roots in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and specifically in some of the IDF intelligence units. MEDINT scours peer-reviewed literature, clinical research, and social media to recommend a customized course of treatment for the patient and physician.

“Don’t believe everything that you read,” the company’s lead researcher, Shoham RIgbi, told me. “What you find in the lay media has little correlation to clinical evidence, leading people to rush to uninformed conclusions.” She cautions people to be more scrupulous about their sources.

With the coronavirus upon us, companies with the resources and capabilities to do so should pivot normal operations to focus on medical intelligence gathering and surveillance on COVID-19. As an example, over the past month, MEDINT has researched and published daily reports on new medical procedures, medical staff protection, drug development, immunization efforts, case studies, new technologies, best practices and red flags related to failures surrounding the novel virus.

As prehospital providers, our assessments, treatments and overall capabilities are getting more sophisticated. Credible research reports are essential to provide useful insight into how we can best treat our patients and protect ourselves.

Take care of yourselves, your colleagues, your patients, and your families during these challenging times. Insist on the requisite PPE for you to be able to do your job as safely as possible. At EMS World, we look forward to the privilege of providing you and your colleagues with the sound education and information you need to do your job in the safest and best way possible. Thank you for all you do and thank you for your service.

Joshua D. Hartman, MBA, NRP, is senior vice president of the Cardiovascular and Public Safety divisions at HMP, the parent company of EMS World.

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