Todd Olmstead Transforming Emergency Health Care through Research

November 22, 2014

Todd Olmstead, a CHASP faculty research associate and the James M. and Claudia U. Richter Fellow in Global Health Policy, is directing a Policy Research Project (PRP) aimed at rethinking the delivery of pre-hospital emergency care. Olmstead’s PRP, titled “Improving ATCEMS Integration with Local Healthcare Networks,” will help Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (ATCEMS) consider its future options in the face of a changing health care scene. “Emergency departments are exactly where you want to go if you’re in a car wreck or have a stroke or heart attack, but they’re not great places if you have a bad cold or a mental illness,” says Olmstead.

With multidisciplinary degrees in Public Policy, Operations Research, and Industrial Engineering, Dr. Olmstead has a unique perspective on the issue. His interests in behavioral health and transportation logistics make him ideal for a PRP focused on reimagining emergency services in the context of an evolving healthcare industry.

“A lot of patients call EMS, believe it or not, because they need a ride, but EMS can’t take them to their primary care physician, so they bring them to the Emergency Department,” says Olmstead.

As a researcher, Professor Olmstead’s goal is to provide policy makers with critical information to help them evaluate alternatives for addressing the myriad issues related to improving health outcomes and the cost-effectiveness of health care.  In his work with the Seton Healthcare Family, Olmstead advises clinicians about research infrastructure and helps evaluate the impact of pilot programs. Olmstead also has a unique partnership with the Dell Medical School.

Olmstead’s PRP ultimately intends to help ATCEMS consider its future options in the face of a changing healthcare scene. The end product for the fall semester will be a concrete list of alternatives to be considered by ATCEMS Chief Ernie Rodriguez and Medical Director Paul Hinchey, M.D. In the spring, students will flesh out selected alternatives, outlining costs, benefits, and stakeholder analysis.

CHASP thanks Meenakshi Awasthi, MGPS 2016, for her contributions to this story.

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