Community paramedicine is a paradigm shift for the use of paramedics in the US. It’s an emerging model in which paramedics function outside their usual emergency response & transport roles- delving into the world of primary care. As the health care world increasingly shifts toward prevention and well care- the system will increasingly demand more folks that can function in a community health (primary care and prevention) role. Community paramedicine is increasingly being recognized as a promising solution to efficiently increase access to care (especially for underserved populations).
For example- paramedics could shift from a sole focus on emergency response to things like: 1) providing follow-up care for folks recently discharged from the hospital to prevent unnecessary readmissions; 2) providing community-based support for people with diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure, or multiple chronic conditions; and/or 3) partnering with community health workers and primary care providers in underserved areas to provide preventive care.
The UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement released a new report this week called ”Community Paramedicine: A Promising Model for Integrating Emergency and Primary Care”. The report is the one I know about that explores this new and evolving model of healthcare. The report concludes that expanding the role of paramedics is a promising solution to efficiently increasing access to care, particularly for underserved populations… and it recommends the development of pilot projects to further refine and evaluate the role of community paramedicine.
One Valley fire department is exploring its own concept – the Mesa Fire and Medical Department is using a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to staff mental health and nurse practitioners according to the Arizona Republic last weekend.
I’ve asked Dr. Bobrow and Terry Mullins to open up dialogue about community paramedicine in Arizona and how it could improve outcomes in a measurable way- and to examine the current scope of practice for EMTs and Paramedics relative to the practice of community paramedicine. We’ll be asking for interested volunteers from our EMS Council to lead a workgroup of individuals to begin answering the Who, What, Where, When and Why of community paramedicine in Arizona. Stay tuned.