Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week (May 21-27) is a good time for fire and EMS departments to consider potential possibilities for the most common mobile health care system in the United States: the EMS system. Researchers point out that it treats five to 10 percent of the U.S. population each year in response to requests for “emergency” care.
Given the already high volume of non-critical calls, the EMS system is uniquely positioned to support mobile integrated health / community paramedicine (MIH/CP) programs. MIH/CP programs are designed to assist low-income and elderly populations who otherwise have few alternative sources of health care support. Community paramedics may take on this expanded role with additional training in the management of chronic disease, communication skills and cultural sensitivity.
Though there are few studies on the value of MIH/CP programs, a recent study indicates that these systems may prevent congestive heart failure readmissions, reduce EMS frequent-user transports, and reduce emergency department visits.
Transforming EMS: Mobile Integrated Healthcare and Community Paramedicine
One lesson I’ve learned so far is that when you’re trying to get a (MIH/CP) program off the ground, it’s crucial that the initial impetus for patient recruitment and identification comes from the program leadership itself, and not primarily from the community and medical stakeholders in the process.— Bryan Choi, author
Potential benefits of MIH/CP as a health care model
- Communities can tailor programs to meet health care gaps.
- MIH/CP providers may require some additional training but already possess most of the needed skills.
- EMS providers are the largest pool of health care system manpower and possess the best mobility.
- EMS providers enjoy community trust and easy access to patients’ homes and protected information.
Potential liabilities of MIH/CP as a health care model
Keys to successful program implementation
- Conduct a comprehensive assessment of local health needs and identify health gaps and priorities.
- Consult with and plan alongside local health agencies, hospitals, pharmacists and primary care providers.
- Identify local and state regulatory and administrative requirements and gain support of local health departments, elected officials, firefighter and local health care worker unions.
- Identify sources of income and reimbursement. (The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and a majority of commercial health insurance plans only reimburse EMS providers for transporting patients.)
Choi, B. Y., Blumberg, C., & Williams, K. (2016). Mobile Integrated Health Care and Community Paramedicine: An Emerging Emergency Medical Services Concept. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 67(3), 361-366. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2015.06.005
Learn more about this research
The research article is available through our library by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested readers may be able to access the article through their local library or through the publisher’s website.
Further reading on MIH/CP
- Case Studies in Community Paramedicine
- Colorado Springs Fire Department: Partnering with Hospitals, Medicaid Care Coordination Organization to Reduce 911 Calls PDF 1 MB
- Community Health Worker Agencies Partner With Emergency Medical Service Providers To Identify Frequent Callers and Connect Them to Community-Based Services, Leading to Fewer 911 Calls
- It Takes a Team of Teams to Transform Healthcare
- Trained Paramedics Provide Ongoing Support to Frequent 911 Callers, Reducing Use of Ambulance and Emergency Department Services