Community Paramedicine: What is it and How to Get Involved
What is Community Paramedicine?
Over the past decade, the growing number of Community Paramedicine (CP) programs have leveraged EMS workers to fill gaps in the United States healthcare system. The overall goals of these programs are twofold: to enhance primary and preventative care for medically underserved populations and to ensure that existing medical services aren’t being duplicated.
Paramedics are the right healthcare professionals for this job. Their proximity to both urban and rural areas, as well as their primary function as 24/7 emergency response and transport makes them able to quickly reach and assess the health of a wide variety of patients. They are accustomed to working one-on-one with people in their homes, and are trusted members of their communities.
With advanced training, community paramedics can provide round-the-clock management of services including:
- Non-acute illnesses
- Primary care
- Public health
- Disease management
- Prevention and wellness (i.e. well baby visits)
- Mental health
- Oral health services
- Home assessment
- Health teaching and consultation
- Direct care such as wound management
- Medication compliance
While community paramedics can take on different responsibilities depending on the needs of individual cities and towns, they have been categorized into two principal models:
- The Primary Healthcare Model provides services to help prevent hospital readmissions, including post-discharge care, monitoring chronic illness and targeting specific high risk patients.
- The Community Coordination Model connects patients to a primary care physician and other social and medical services, preventing unnecessary trips to the Emergency Department (ED).
In both of these roles, community paramedics can benefit from the use of telemedicine or telehealth, to enhance and document patient care aimed at improved outcomes and quality. Mobile telemedicine apps like GD e-Bridge help community paramedics to quickly and easily consult with and gain medical direction from distant healthcare providers through HIPAA-secure voice, text, photos, data, video clips and live-stream.
For example, the LA County Fire Department has begun using GD e-Bridge Mobile Telemedicine application to consult and obtain medical direction to provide care outside of a paramedic’s scope and allow appropriate medical professionals to determine if a transport is necessary and where to determine if a patient transport is necessary and if transporting to a non-emergency room is appropriate.
Considering implementing a community paramedicine program in your area? Benefits include:
- Reducing overcrowding in EDs by keeping patients who don’t have medically emergent conditions from having to go to the hospital
- Reducing call volume for emergency ambulances by managing high utilizers and reducing unnecessary transports.
- Improving continuity of care, in some cases, for patients who would otherwise see an ED doctor and have a follow-up with a different doctor
- Lowering hospital readmissions by providing preventative services for medically underserved communities, including post-discharge care, monitoring chronic illness and targeting high-risk patients
- Saving money and time by providing quality patient care that reduces unnecessary transports to the ED
These benefits were clear in the results of a recent California community paramedicine pilot project. Between 2015 and 2019, 7,857 people enrolled collectively in 20 projects in 14 communities across California. The evaluation of the program concluded that “Californians benefit from these innovative models of health care that leverage an existing workforce operating at all times under medical control – either directly or by protocols developed by physicians experienced in EMS and emergency care.” Additionally, the evaluation could not attribute any adverse patient outcomes to any of these projects.
For even more information about community paramedicine, telemedicine and more
Learn about Community Paramedic training at the Paramedic Network https://paramedicnetwork.org/.
About GD (General Devices)
GD is a 40+ year Med Tech company that specializes in mobile telemedicine and telehealth that, enables simply smarter patient care by empowering hospitals, EMS, mobile integrated healthcare, community paramedicine and public safety responders with the most comprehensive, highly configurable, and affordable medical team communications solutions. Learn more at general-devices.com