The hospital is often a close partner with community paramedicine and mobile integrated healthcare (MIH-CP) programs. The hospital’s role in community paramedicine may be central or take the form of a peripheral partner.
Hospitals often provide an MIH-CP program with medical direction, training opportunities, and the chance to connect with more patients. However, the hospital’s role in mobile integrated healthcare will largely depend on whether the hospital is initiating the program.
Below, we’ll talk more about hospital’s role within community paramedicine. We’ll also discuss some benefits of forming a direct partnership with the local hospital.
What is the Hospital’s Role in Community Paramedicine?
The hospital can play a central role in some community paramedic programs or a peripheral role in others. While every area will have a different approach, understanding what a relationship with the hospital will do for community paramedicine is essential.
The hospital’s role in community paramedicine can come in several different avenues:
- Help with protocols
- Medical direction for MIH-CP
- Training Oversight
- Hospital-based programs
Let’s look at these closer.
Often, particularly in more rural areas, the hospital will play a direct role in designating protocols for ambulance and fire services. This is often the case even if these departments are not directly attached to the hospital.
For this reason, even if the MIH-CP program does not have a direct relationship with the hospital, the EMS management must have a good relationship with the hospital. Why?
An MIH-CP program may want to update its protocols and training to include more advanced procedures and practices; however, if they have a poor relationship with the physicians at the hospital, they will find it much more challenging to push anything forward.
This is all closely tied to the medical director.
Medical Direction for MIH-CP
For much of the United States, the medical director is the appointed physician who oversees protocols and training for paramedics and EMTs within their given county. Large EMS departments will hire, and staff a physician who will then write up protocols and have them approved by the county – this process varies significantly based on the area.
Often, the hospital will provide the medical director, usually an ER physician. The medical director’s involvement level will vary significantly around the country. Some areas have very active medical direction, and others have almost none.
If possible, MIH-CP programs should try to establish a close relationship with the medical director. These relationships can be pivotal in the expansion and sustenance of the program. In most cases, if the medical director is involved, the program will usually be more robust.
Hospitals Often Oversee Training opportunities
The hospital can extend training opportunities to medics, nurses, and EMTs who work with the mobile integrated healthcare team. It’s no secret that many EMS departments don’t get much exposure to all patient types, such as newborns and children. The hospital will often have more contact with these demographics, allowing MIH-CP personnel to participate in training.
In this way, hospitals can help MIH-CP reach their visions, establishing a more versatile and confident unit. All MIH-CP programs should make plans to keep up with any unique training, and hospitals play a crucial role in this.
Sometimes, the hospital will play a central role in a community paramedic program, even starting it themselves. In these cases, the hospital will usually have several goals.
First, the hospital may want to reduce the number of readmitted patients. In some areas, reducing the number of readmissions provides reimbursement benefits, particularly with the Medicare readmission reduction program.
Second, some areas may be looking to reduce an overload of patients in the ER. Unfortunately, many patients use the ER as their primary source of healthcare, even when there is no health emergency. This isn’t the patients’ fault – usually, they are unaware of other community options.
In these cases, the mobile integrated healthcare community paramedic program serves two purposes – the first being to help guide and demonstrate to the public that there are other options for healthcare. The second task is to provide direct care. For example, when ERs see patients coming in because their medications must be refilled, they soon realize that this task could be performed in the field. It’s a win-win – the patient doesn’t need to make the trip to the ER, and the ER doesn’t need to worry about being overburdened.
Benefits of MIH-CP Staying Connected with the Hospital
Sometimes, the community paramedic program will be run by physicians and EMS teams not working directly with the hospital. However, even in these cases, it’s wise for community paramedic programs to establish a connection with the hospital.
Here are a few reasons it’s wise to connect MIH-CP with the hospital:
- Training and certification initiatives
- Connecting with more patient demographics
- Further partnerships – cross-pollination
Let’s look at these things in more depth.
MIH-CP Programs Connected to Hospitals have Increased Training Opportunities
Community paramedicine is a relatively new initiative that has been around in some form for twenty to thirty years. Although three decades may seem significant, it represents a relatively short period in healthcare.
Community paramedicine is bridging the gap between prehospital emergency care and longer-term, holistic care. As mobile integrated health programs adjust, they will need to tap into resources with previous knowledge of the care they provide.
As we said earlier, the hospital can be a treasure trove regarding needed training – let’s talk about some specifics.
Here’s why hospitals are an excellent opportunity for training:
- They have diversely trained staff. In the hospital, even if it’s a small rural hospital, there will be many people with various specialties. There will be surgeons, OB nurses, ICU specialists, and more. This gold mine of knowledge can significantly help train community paramedics.
- Patient volume. For mobile integrated healthcare staff who need to get hands-on experience with many different patients, the hospital is the best place to do this. In addition, the hospital is the epicenter of the healthcare community in large or small areas.
- Hospitals can help push training forward. If you have the hospital on your side, you’ll have a much more persuasive voice when pushing for positive changes in MIH-CP. Community paramedicine still has a way to go when it comes to establishing a good reimbursement model, and hospitals will play a role in helping them push these things through.
Now let’s discuss another reason to keep connections strong with a local hospital.
Reach More Patient Demographics
A community paramedic program has the potential to reach out to nearly any patient demographic. However, it can be difficult to get the full picture of the community’s needs from the prehospital setting.
For example, a fire- or EMS-based MIH-CP program will likely see patients with chronic illnesses, usually older adults. They may also see patients frequently who are struggling with substance abuse. These patients need the help of MIH-CP, but they are not the only patients who need help.
Here are a few other demographics to consider:
- Expecting mothers. Some pregnant women don’t have access to regular maternity care, or their living situation does not allow them to seek the necessary care. In these cases, trained community paramedics and nurses can deliver pre-natal care directly to these patients.
- Newborn and infant care. Often if a mother is having trouble receiving care before birth, she will continue struggling with care after birth. Again, MIH-CP programs can help in these cases, but without a connection to the hospital, they would have trouble realizing these needs.
If you’d like an example of a program capitalizing on these areas, look at the mobile integrated health program in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
Form Better Partnerships within the Community
As we said, the hospital is the epicenter of community healthcare, making it an excellent place to look for more potential partners. So if your MIH-CP program feels like it has exhausted its potential to find partners, look to the hospital – they may open doors you didn’t know existed.
For example, the hospital often has connections with facilities closely linked to primary healthcare. They may partner with various rehab facilities, whether for substance abuse rehabilitation or physical therapy. They might have relationships with different local churches or homelessness outreach centers – all these have the potential to be partners of your community paramedic program.
If you’re looking for good documentation software to help you connect with partners, consider Julota’s interoperable platform. Julota makes it simple to privately share information with authorized partners, increasing the strength of collaboration.
Last Take: How Hospitals Collaborate with MIH-CP
Hospitals can play a central or peripheral role in a community paramedic program. Regardless, connecting with the hospital is often beneficial to the MIH-CP program.
Hospitals will improve training opportunities for MIH-CP, and they act as a “town square” for increasing partnerships and discovering new demographics who need community paramedicine services.
Discover how Julota’s intuitive software fosters strong connections between community paramedic programs and their partners. Contact us today to learn more.