The Community Support for Mobile Integrated Healthcare-Community Paramedicine is its foundation. With public support, a community paramedic program can thrive.
The first step to building community support for your MIH-CP program is to listen to the people at large. People want programs that work for them, not the other way around. Further, you’ll need to rally the support of community leaders. Finally, you’ll need to execute and show observable results.
Sound daunting? It can be. But some simple techniques make the path easier. In the sections below, we’ll lay out the map to help you develop more community support for your MIH-CP program.
3 Methods to Build Community Support for MIH-CP
When you begin looking to build community support, it’s essential to start with the basics and work your way up, just like learning a new skill or starting a new job. First, you learn the fundamentals; then, you progress to more advanced principles.
Steps to building community support for an MIH-CP program:
- Start with the people
- Reach out to the leaders
- Execute and show results
Each of these steps has its subcategories, so we’ll break it down in simple terms. Let’s dive in.
Building Public Support: Start with the People
Before running full speed into a community paramedic program, it’s essential to start with the most obvious questions: whom are you helping? How are you helping them? Those are the questions people will ask when they’re at town halls or community events – in simple terms, the people want to know: what’s in it for us?
Your job is to assess the community’s needs. And not just any need. It would be best to think about the community’s most pressing concerns. For example, take an example city. The area consists of 80% of people over the age of 60. For this demographic, working to maintain primary healthcare and manage chronic conditions may be a big priority.
However, if you approach this community with a plan to address drug abuse, you might find that the community isn’t enthusiastic. It’s not that combating substance abuse isn’t a noble cause; it’s just not their specific problem. This is an example of doing the right thing in the wrong area.
Conversely, your MIH-CP program might be in a younger neighborhood that struggles with rampant mental health illnesses. In this case, a program targeting chronic diseases might be less effective. What’s the point? Learn the demographics of your areas and the related health concerns. If you tell people you’ll help reduce their worries, you will gain trust and support!
This whole process of analyzing a community is often referred to as a needs assessment. While your local hospital may already have a standard needs assessment, there may be ways you can speak directly to the community. Allowing the people and patients to see your department’s “face” is vital to increasing engagement.
Support for MIH-CP: Talk to the People You Serve
Before you begin any advanced planning, talk with the community – the people you’re serving. This may mean reaching out to typical patients and asking them what would help them thrive in their environment.
This could mean attending town hall meetings and listening to the concerns of community members. Further, you might even reach out to the local community center, school administrators, churches, and non-profits. What health concerns do they have for their community?
As you go around and talk with various people, see if you hear any common themes. For example, are they concerned with drug abuse? Mental health? Chronic disease? Homelessness? All these issues can be addressed effectively with community paramedicine.
Talking directly to the people (even if you’re already aware of the community’s needs) can be a powerful way to gain trust and support. Even if there is no monetary reward for these efforts, having public sentiment on your side will benefit you when the elected officials and administrators begin making decisions.
Do they have any questions? Any concerns with the current EMS system? This is an excellent opportunity to address concerns and demonstrate the role of MIH-CP in the future of healthcare.
Address the Community Leaders
When approaching community leaders (this could be hospital administrators, the mayor, the police chief, physicians’ offices, or fire departments), think about their goals.
When pitching your community program to other leaders, know that anyone who will provide direct support, financially or as an active partner on the streets, will wonder one thing: do these people know what they are talking about? Have they done their homework?
As we’ve called it, your homework is what we talked about in the first section – making sure your program will place the community’s needs first and that your community paramedic program is addressing a threat to public health. If you’re confident in your program, you will have a much better time rallying support amongst community leaders.
EMS often takes a helping role; however, it’s essential that EMS is ready to lead when the time is right. Community paramedicine and mobile-integrated healthcare are the perfect places for EMS departments to spearhead the initiative. And as a good leader, EMS should also listen to the needs of the administrators.
When sitting down with community leaders, make that time about them. What are their worries? How do they feel a community paramedic program could benefit the community? Be careful. If the EMS team talks about their own goals, it could make fellow community leaders think they are only outsiders and aren’t integral to the greater mission.
Gaining Long-Term Community Support for Mobile Integrated Healthcare-Community Paramedicine: Diversify Partnerships
Some people have different opinions on the community’s needs. For example, if the police department isn’t interested in partnering in the program, perhaps the fire department, the hospital, or a local doctor’s office will be interested.
Think about community engagement as an investment.
For the best returns on engagement and the most stable future, you should reach out to as many community leaders and organizations that would be relevant partners. Try to diversify. Think outside the box on this one. For example, youth organizations or even local businesses could be interested in the services provided by a community paramedic program.
For more information on securing meaningful partnerships, please read our article on how to build community partners for your MIH-CP program.
Question: What do you do when community partners ask: show me the results? How do we know your program will work? Where’s the proof? We will address this next.
Building Support for Community Paramedicine: Execute and Show the Results
Yes, many times, communities will be excited about your MIH-CP program, having heard of the success stories around the country. However, other areas may take some extra convincing – prepare for community lethargy. This is the common workers’ paradox: I want to get a good job, but to get a good job, I need experience. It’s the same with starting a new program.
Thankfully, there are avenues for community paramedic programs to gain funding without initially (key, initially) relying on community partners. This is usually in the form of a grant. Once you have a grant, you must not miss this opportunity to draw more partners. So how do you make the most of this? Good data.
How do you use data to rally community support? Let’s talk about it.
Gathering Good Data Leads to Better Community Support
Let’s imagine you’re caring for a patient who has experienced multiple falls in the last year, with one of the falls resulting in a broken arm. If you say to them, “our community paramedic program can help reduce falls.” What’s their next question: “Really?”
These days, consumers of anything, even healthcare, like to see data before they “buy in.” Don’t think so? Just look at the importance of reviews on Amazon. If a product has no history, people are suspect.
When that community member asks, “can you really reduce falls?” and you show them a chart demonstrating a 70% reduction in falls for people enrolled in your program, those are the numbers that excite people.
How do you capture those numbers? With good tools.
Building Support: Use Good Data Capture Tools
To build greater community support for mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine, you need to be able to show your work. With that, you need a platform that captures your data and allows you to distribute it in a meaningful way. Think about the importance of graphs and charts – these things can easily demonstrate that you’re meeting your goals.
What goals? Reducing 911 calls, remedying crowding in the ER, reducing hospital readmission, helping reduce the number of fatal overdoses, and reducing the number of police interactions with mental health patients.
Julota offers a cloud-based, integrated platform that lets you communicate with your partners. Julota also allows you to record and organize good data – the kind of data that makes people excited and builds community support.
Contact Julota to discover how their tools can lift your MIH-CP program off the ground, helping you build community support, stay connected with partners, and remain strong for years to come.