The NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center (TAC) employees a rigorous testing program to verify compliance of EMS software products. Through their review and validation of XML files and software documentation, the TAC verifies compliance to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) 2.2.1 Dataset. These products are then considered NEMSIS Compliant. If an EMS provider agency is in the market for new, or replacement, Electronic Patient Care Reporting (ePCR) software, they should choose from those that have been verified as NEMSIS Compliant. The EMSTARS Compliance process is not meant to replace this testing; only to supplement it.
It is not within the statutory authority of the Bureau of EMS to formally evaluate or certify software products. However, we have implemented a method to verify that exported files comply with EMSTARS criteria as defined in the Florida EMS Data Dictionary. This verification of exported ePCR files, called an 'extract', is not a certification or endorsement of any particular software product. The verification process does not assess the functional features of any product and does not guarantee it will meet the needs of any provider agency.
The process evaluates extracts (explained in Verification Steps), containing actual electronic ePCR files that were created by the EMT's and Paramedics from a licensed Florida provider agency, in the delivery of patient care. Each record is tested based on the data elements, field values, validation rules, and other information contained within the Florida EMS Data Dictionary. The process does not address any specifics regarding configuration, features, or options; only that the extract complied with EMSTARS criteria and passed the pertinent validation rules.
Software vendors need only submit extracts for compliance testing with one Florida client provider agency. Once a software vendor has successfully verified their product is capable of producing an EMSTARS compliant extract, they may market their product(s) as such, with the understanding that each agency has different needs and may require slightly different configurations to meet those needs.
While it is necessary that a software product's extract has been verified prior to beginning normal, routine EMSTARS reporting, compliance verification is not required before the software may be purchased by Florida provider agencies. Testing is arranged between the Data Unit and the software vendors. If the software you own, or are considering, has not yet completed the process, it may be merely an issue of timing. You may contact the Data Unit at any time regarding verification of software vendors.
Since the compliance process relies on actual 'live' records, it cannot test or verify every possible EMS response scenario and the associated validation rules. The process is designed to identify as many issues as possible in advance, acknowledging that some validation issues may remain until an agency has transitioned to normal, routine reporting. The software vendors are asked to work closely with the Data Unit and their clients during this transition period.
In summary, EMSTARS compliance means simply that a file extract from the software vendor has been verified against the documented compliance criteria. There has been no testing or verification of a software product's functionality or capabilities, other than the file extract that was produced. As always, EMS provider agencies are free to purchase any solution that meets their needs, and the project team will work with all providers and software vendors to ensure verification of compliance in a timely manner. Please forward any questions, concerns, or issues to Juan Esparza.