The definition of mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine (MIH-CP) often means different things to different people. However, to succeed with MIH-CP, there must be a clear understanding of what the program is designed to do. We must boil away the fluff and get to the meat. Here is a simple definition of mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine: a patient-centered force that weaves together separate public health groups to meet the community’s needs in an out-of-hospital setting.
That is the heart of MIH-CP. It’s a system that acknowledges that patients are treated best when their situations are carefully considered. Not only does MIH-CP seek to make healthcare easier for the patient, but it also seeks to create a more active, integrated, and coordinated system.
What is The Purpose of Mobile Integrate Healthcare Community Paramedicine?
It can be a challenge to define mobile integrated healthcare community paramedicine. Often, definitions of MIH-CP describe specific programs, and these depictions fall short of the broader purpose.
For example, some might say that mobile integrated healthcare is performing fall risk assessments to at-risk elderly patients – and this would be correct; however, this is only a sub-type of MIH-CP. MIH-CP is much broader than fall risk, blood pressure checks, vaccinations, and medical education. MIH-CP could mean chronic disease management, rapid response to mental health crises, or outreach to the homeless.
Some people wonder about the differences between mobile integrated healthcare and community paramedicine. Is there a difference?
What’s the Difference Between Community Paramedicine and Mobile Integrated Healthcare?
Regarding terminology, there is no real difference between mobile integrated healthcare and community paramedicine – this is why you often see the two terms hyphenated together. However, we can offer some insight into how these two terms came to be.
The term community paramedicine describes paramedics performing healthcare outside of traditional emergency response. Early on, paramedics and EMTs mostly just responded to 911 calls. As time passed, there was a realization that paramedics are uniquely positioned to reach the community in a more holistic practice. Paramedics began performing wellness checks, transporting patients to non-emergency clinics, and even performing more treatment-and-release practices in the field.
These new job tasks of a paramedic didn’t fit under the term Emergency Medical Services (EMS), so the term community paramedicine came about. That’s interesting, but what about the term mobile integrated healthcare?
As paramedics began performing this non-emergency work, it became clear they would partner with mental health professionals, police officers, nurses, and first responders. Suddenly, the term community paramedicine doesn’t quite capture the essence of all these different providers. So, you could say that mobile integrated healthcare is a broader term that includes paramedics, EMTs, and all other trained professionals involved.
However, paramedics are still some of the most common providers of this type of care, so the phrase community paramedicine still fits many cases.
Now that we have the semantics out of the way, let’s talk specifics.
MIH-CP: Healthcare That’s Mobile
To fully define mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine, we focus on two main words: mobile and integrated.
Mobile simply means the care takes place outside the hospital. Instead of a stationary, brick-and-mortar-based healthcare system, we are mobilizing the team – like the military moving from a defensive position to an active, offensive maneuver.
The need for a mobile group of health professionals has never been starker. The covid-19 pandemic saw to that. Many patients were unable to travel to the ER. Others with vulnerabilities chose to forgo regular check-ups. And still, others saw their primary care physicians close their doors.
What was the answer? In many areas, there was silence. However, some health systems did indeed answer the call. How? They sent paramedics and nurses to the patients, providing as much out-of-hospital care as possible. By mobilizing.
After understanding that MIH-CP is a mobile force, we must also highlight the word integrated.
What Does Integrated mean in Mobile Integrated Healthcare?
Integration is the process of combining two or more things to make them whole. How does this work in healthcare? Again, the military provides a good example.
Imagine if the Airforce and the Army didn’t talk to each other. They never shared information, and each operated with relatively little knowledge of the other. Most people would think this is absurd! And they’d be right. On the contrary, various military branches (though they have different specialties) understand that communication and coordination between groups are absolutely essential. The key between victory and failure is the integration and coordination of all forces.
It might surprise people to know that healthcare is often fractured. And though it’s been this way for some time, forward-thinking health systems are asking themselves: why aren’t we coordinating our forces? We’re fighting the same battle; why aren’t we sharing information? Why aren’t we integrated?
So, why isn’t more integration taking place? Partly it’s just the nature of different healthcare systems. Not everyone is standardized, and unfortunately, healthcare is a business in many areas, creating competition between hospitals and EMS systems. While this competition can benefit the consumer in some cases, it also has downsides and delivers a noticeable loss in the form of free and clear communication.
Also, health privacy laws may create an arbitrary barrier between healthcare. Certainly, health privacy is a serious thing. However, this doesn’t mean that healthcare providers who are authorized to share information with each other should be worried about transferring information when it’s allowed and in the best interest of the patient.
Integration requires a clear place for teams to communicate and a clear platform for a neutral party.
What Does Mobile Integrated Healthcare-Community Paramedicine Do?
We’ve talked a lot about concepts in relation to the definition of mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine. And concepts are necessary to understand where something comes from. Knowing the foundation gives you the roots to grow.
However, now that we know the base of MIH-CP, let’s talk about its practical application. Below, we’ll cover some of the most common programs. This should help further cement the definition of mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine. There is much more, but this will help us speak to some of the most common.
Common MIH-CP programs:
- Chronic disease management
- Super-utilizer outreach
- Alternative destinations
- Mental healthcare
Let’s look closer.
Mobile Integrated Healthcare-Community Paramedicine: Chronic Disease Management
Many patients with chronic conditions, often related to heart disease or diabetes, will frequently return to the hospital. MIH-CP meets these patients in their homes, helping them stay updated on their health.
These visits often include a video call with a physician, an inventory of medications, and a chance for the patient to voice concerns. These chronic disease management programs have been shown to help reduce hospital readmission rates.
Mobile Integrated Healthcare Community Paramedicine: Super-utilizers
As many EMS services will tell you, often, a very small percentage of patients take up a stunningly large portion of their time. Sometimes, a single patient will call the ambulance hundreds of times over a relatively short period.
MIH-CP goes to these patients to find out what’s missing from their care. Often, this direct approach reduces 911 calls and ER visits and frees up more ambulances and police officers to respond to critical emergencies.
There are also MIH-CP programs that reach the homeless population. This can have huge benefits for patients and the community.
Mobile Integrated Healthcare Community Paramedicine: Alternative Destinations
For a long time, ambulances only transported patients to the emergency department. It doesn’t matter if you have the sniffles or a sore throat; the ambulance transported to the ER.
However, this practice doesn’t always make sense. Some patients just need to see their primary care physicians. Others could be well treated in urgent care.
As private and government payers recognize the efficacy of alternative destinations, ambulances can be paid for these services and provide the best care to the patients.
Mobile Integrated Healthcare: Mental Health and Harm Reduction
The mental health and substance abuse crisis has exploded in recent years. While these are often two different issues, both mental health patients and those struggling with substance abuse can often use the help of an MIH-CP team.
These teams can build response teams that reduce the interaction of police officers with people having a mental health crisis. Also, programs like post overdose response teams can respond to patients who’ve recently had an overdose, offering support and resources.
As you can see, MIH-CP has become the outstretched hands of healthcare. Mobile integrated healthcare has the chance to make waves of difference on multiple public health issues.
Now, it’s time for the final take.
Conclusion: A Simple Definition of Mobile Integrate Healthcare-Community Paramedicine
Indeed, mobile integrated healthcare is about bringing all levels of healthcare together. Patients have cardiologists, primary care physicians, and dentists – mobile integrated healthcare believes they should all have open and easy communication with each other.
Mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine seeks to reimagine healthcare. This revolutionary movement aims to reduce cost, improve care, and increase coordination with all of healthcare. If you’d like to learn more, you can read the NAEMT’s mobile integrated healthcare vision statement.
Two of the beams keeping MIH-CP upright are good documentation and seamless communication. Julota provides an intuitive platform for data collection and sharing. If you’re curious, contact Julota and see how their tools will help harness the potential of your MIH-CP program.