Many health systems embarking on population health initiatives know they need to bolster their partnerships with community resources, but don't know where to focus their efforts. Community paramedicine is a great place to start.
Community paramedics receive advanced training, allowing them to provide a range of in-home services, such as health coaching and home safety assessments for your rising- and high-risk patients. They can also help you reduce your ED volumes by providing in-home treatments to frequent 911 callers whose needs are not emergent, and reduce your readmission rates by performing post-discharge check-ups on at-risk patients.
Here are answers to questions we get frequently asked about developing a community paramedicine program.
How do I determine my population's health needs?
Across the programs we’ve studied, there is tremendous variation in the services community paramedics provide. The design of the community paramedic role must be based on clear community health needs, so your first step is to identify gaps in existing resources. Common care gaps and community needs include lack of primary care providers, specialty providers, home care providers, or some combination thereof. The goal of the program, be it ED diversion, care coordination, or supplemental primary care, should map directly to your community’s needs.
What is the ideal staffing model?
Examine your organization’s and community’s resources to determine what staffing model would work best. It is not always necessary for a health care organization to hire additional staff for a community paramedic program. Many programs leverage existing paramedic staff time or partner with fire departments to fill the community paramedic role.
Identify and coordinate with stakeholders across your health care organization to maximize your community paramedicine program’s reach. Coordinating with clinical leaders and stakeholders such as ED case managers, home health managers, pharmacists, and primary care practice staff on identifying appropriate patients for community paramedic program services increases the number of eligible patients who can be referred to the program and helps ensure optimal use of the program’s services.
How do I measure success?
Many programs compare their targeted patient population’s number of 911 calls, ED visits, admissions and readmissions, and total cost of care prior to program enrollment to those metrics post-enrollment. These basic metrics serve as a barometer for the program’s success and are useful in demonstrating the ROI of the program to organization leaders and private payers for reimbursement purposes.
Upon evaluating the impact on health care outcomes, realign and refine program activities to promote your program’s objectives. Program leaders should use outcomes data to inform changes to programmatic services and resource allocation to better achieve the health care organization’s goals and fulfill patient care objectives.
Please email me at WildC@advisory.com with any questions or comments on this topic.
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