Community Integrated Paramedicine programs are beginning to come together in two primary business models in Arizona. The first one has EMS (emergency medical services) agencies partnering with hospitals to reduce the frequency that patients are re-admitted to hospitals. In the second, EMS agencies are cultivating social service referrals to reduce the frequency that folks use emergency departments for non-emergency events.
Here in Arizona, EMS agencies have really jumped on board, highlighted by the Mesa Fire and Medical Department’s $12 million grant from the Federal Government, Rio Rico Fire District’s Community Paramedicine Program and Golder Ranch Fire District’s Community Paramedicine Program.
There are two possible reasons for the increased interest in Community Integrated Paramedicine programs. Federal law provides financial incentives to hospitals to reduce the number of readmissions among patients discharged within 30 days. There’s also been a national focus on conducting community health needs assessments. Many community needs assessments have exposed large gaps in the availability of preventative health care services needed to improve the health and well-being of residents.
A new piece of the community paramedicine puzzle became available this week with the publication of a document called “Expanding the Role of Emergency Medical Services Providers: A Legal Analysis” by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. The document examines the legal perspective and provides guidance on several topics including scope of practice, emergency calls, payment, liability and medical direction for community integrated paramedicine programs.
Community Integrated Paramedicine touches our Bureau of EMS and Trauma System, the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease and the Health Care Institution Licensing Branch. Our job over the coming months is to help Community Integrated Paramedicine Programs to navigate regulatory waters and manage the risks associated with a new business model for EMS providers – our Team is finalizing work on a guidance document right now.