The Need for Community Paramedicine

Nov 11, 2015 by

Doctor shortages in many rural regions across the US have led to paramedics stepping up to address the needs of these communities. Community paramedicine is an opportunity for patients to receive quality healthcare even in regions where healthcare resources and services are limited. An article by Michelle Ancell recently published in the journal for the association representing state legislators, the National Conference on State Legislatures, provides a summary of the many aspects of community paramedicine and why its implementation and spread across the nation is necessary in order for the healthcare system to be able to respond to the changing needs of the population, which include aging rural population, less volunteer firefighters and EMTs, as well as increase in chronic illness rates.

Community paramedics can perform health assessments, monitor chronic diseases, ensure patients use medication correctly, give vaccinations and follow up after hospital discharges. They are also a great source of information and help educate patients on the care and treatment of their illnesses, injuries and diseases often focusing on areas, where physicians are scarce, and on underserved populations.

Today, community paramedicine is often funded through grants for pilot programs, but some states such as Minnesota reimburse these services through Medicaid. In order for community paramedicine to be successful in the long term it is critical to not have an hourly price, nor to reimburse based on a fee-for-service model but rather to switch to a value based approach, where reimbursement is based on the saving to the healthcare system overall the use of community paramedicine results in.

Success of CP program is closely related to them being tailored to the needs of the community, therefore, legislation needs to be created that allows for community paramedicine that is sufficiently flexible to allow it to be adaptive to the community it serves. As Michelle Ancell writes in her article: “These programs have the ability to improve health care for the future because they navigate patients to the appropriate resource at the appropriate time, rather than to the highest cost entry point of the health care system—the emergency room.”

Read the full article below and make sure to join NYMIHA for the latest news in mobile integrated healthcare.


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