Does mobile integrated healthcare community paramedicine work? Is there proof? Or has all the hype around MIH-CP been just that: hype? This article will explore several types of evidence that prove MIH-CP is effective.
Mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine (MIH-CP) is a proactive technique grounded in common sense. This manifests itself in various ways, including bringing care to the patient, following up on super-utilizers, and transporting patients to their appropriate destinations.
This article will highlight the most undeniable proof that MIH-CP can positively impact the community. But, first, let’s outline how we’re measuring success.
The Characteristics of a Successful MIH-CP Program
When someone asks, does community paramedicine and mobile integrated healthcare work? We need to ensure our definitions are clear – what does “work” mean? Everyone has different goals, and each community has different needs.
A community paramedic program is successful when it reaches the reasonable goals set by the community. For some, it might be reducing unneeded 911 calls. For others, it could be taking a load off the emergency department. Still, some simply need to establish a better connection with patients in their communities.
These are some of the main goals of community paramedics. Mobile integrated healthcare is a new way of thinking. It’s versatile. Mobile integrated healthcare can mean different things to different communities.
It is with confidence we can state: mobile integrated healthcare works. Here’s how.
Three Types of Proof that MIH-CP is Successful
Mobile integrated healthcare has been studied and shown great results; however, this model is still in its beginning stages and is still being worked out.
What’s the reason why MIH-CP is catching on in so many areas? The need is there. MIH-CP isn’t a global push from the top down – this isn’t government officials who think they have a good idea. No – MIH-CP is a grassroots effort born from paramedics, nurses, physicians, and local health systems seeing a need in their communities.
With all that being said, here are the three proofs we will look at:
- The numbers that tell the story
- The patient’s and providers voices
- The laws around community paramedicine
Let’s look at these in more depth.
Numbers That Prove Mobile Integrated Healthcare Works
Many people like numbers, and for a good reason. Numbers provide concrete proof that a change has occurred. Numbers show the difference, and they provide a scale.
This is true of community paramedicine. Many areas have a goal. For example, they’d like to help aging adults regain dependence and safety. So, they set up a measure or matrix and then record the differences before and after their community paramedic program has provided service.
There are many, many examples around the country (and the world, for that matter) of community paramedics providing a service that directly impacts the population.
Here are several metrics that are common goals:
- Reduced hospital readmissions
- Reduced 911 calls
- Improving resources available
Reducing hospital readmissions means that patients with chronic illnesses are getting help to control their condition.
Reducing 911 calls means that patients calling 911 regularly – perhaps due to falls, a chronic condition, or even loneliness – are now having their needs met.
And improving available resources simply means that police officers and emergency paramedics are available to respond to real life-threatening emergency calls.
Here are several numbers that prove all these outcomes are possible:
- One area found a 24% decrease in 911 calls over two years after initiating mobile integrated healthcare programs.
- Respected and organized studies have “concluded that paramedics with extended skills represent a clinically effective alternative to standard ambulance transfer and treatment in an emergency department for elderly patients with acute minor conditions.“
- Colorado Springs tracks its program’s progress through yearly reports, and they’ve found as much as a 72% reduction in ED use of those in the program.
These types of numbers are seen all over the country. Now, let’s take a more subjective yet no less valuable look at the effectiveness of MIH-CP.
Let’s hear from the patients and providers.
The Patient and Provider Opinions of MIH-CP’s Success
What does the customer say? What does the provider say? It’s always helpful to listen to the troops in the battle, as they can provide intel beyond stats, percentages, and the bottom line.
Overwhelmingly, patients and providers value the idea and the implementation of community paramedicine.
Here are a few things that real patients and providers have said about MIH-CP:
- “My community paramedics feel like family” – Norma, Healthy Hennepin.
- “Many of our patients don’t want an ambulance showing up to their house” (highlighting the benefit of small MIH-CP vehicles) – Dr. Leon, AMA.
- “. . .why not have paramedics trained so they can be more proactive and less reactive?” – R. Braun, EMS World.
Mobile integrated healthcare isn’t just for one patient group. It’s about bringing care to everyone that needs it.
Here are several programs implemented by community paramedic programs. As you’ll see, these are comprehensive programs covering the spectrum of community health.
Common community paramedic care models:
- Post Pverdose Response Teams
- Crisis response and Mental health teams
- Harm reduction programs
- Infant check-ups
- Chronic illness management
- Vaccination programs
In the next section, we’ll talk about how legislative bodies are noticing community paramedicine and what this means for the value of MIH-CP.
New Laws Indicate Mobile Integrated Healthcare has a Strong Future
One way to tell how healthcare is moving is to hold a finger into the winds of legislation. And if laws are any indicator, they tell us that mobile integrated healthcare could be a huge factor in the future.
In many states, laws are passing – even as recently as the last two years – that improve and outline the role of community paramedicine. Indeed, those at all levels of government are listening to the patients and healthcare professionals. And, it appears that citizens are saying loud and clear: we think mobile integrated healthcare is a good idea, and we want more of it.
The passing of pro-community paramedicine laws doesn’t just signify that MIH-CP is working; it also keeps the ball rolling for better care.
Many of these laws overcome common hurdles facing community paramedicine. These include provider certification and the ability for MIH-CP to get paid for their service – which is vital to long-term funding and sustainability.
Here are several recent laws passed in favor of mobile integrated healthcare:
- Indiana passed laws in 2019-2020 that improve and streamline the MIH approval process.
- Minnesota was one of the first states to pass legislation that allows community paramedic providers to seek better reimbursement for non-transportation services.
- Colorado passed a bill in 2016 that would make it easier for community paramedics to practice emergency medicine during calls and get paid for service.
These are just a few examples of laws passed in recent years. There are many more. In the next section, we’ll address some common criticisms of MIH-CP.
Criticisms and Room for Growth in MIH-CP
MIH-CP has caught on for one main reason: it just makes sense. Why wouldn’t we bring primary care to patients who can’t travel? Why wouldn’t we transport non-emergency patients to non-emergency clinics? Why wouldn’t paramedics and physicians help patients manage chronic illness without constant hospital stays and clinic visits?
However, that does not mean this model is without critique. It would be naive and dangerous to state that MIH-CP is without criticism or flaws. In the next bullet point, we will discuss some common questions posed toward MIH-CP.
Here are some areas of potential improvement for MIH-CP:
- More uniform standards. As it sits, MIH-CP can vary widely from state to state and even department to department. While it’s important that MIH-CP maintain versatility, it’s also important to establish a foundation of trust with patients and partners.
- Care coordination with other providers. Some organizations have expressed concern about overlapping care. This overlap could be between home nurses or other community health teams. First, all overlapping care can be avoided with good communication – which should be a staple of any MIH-CP program. Second, most would agree it’s better to have true overlap than to have gaps in care.
- Funding. Many areas have struggled to see the path toward sustainable funding of MIH-CP. Good funding will be a trickle effect of more uniform standards and increased recognition.
Nothing is perfect. With effort, however, MIH-CP can bound into the future, overcoming these hurdles.
Last Takeaway on the Evidence that Mobile Integrated Healthcare Community Paramedicine Works
The numbers, the voices of the people, and the laws have spoken: mobile integrated healthcare works, and it has the potential to grow into an even more powerful force in the future.
One of the best ways to convince someone that community paramedicine work is by showing them the data. That’s where Julota’s intuitive software comes in. Julota has built a system that safely records, shares, and synthesizes your healthcare data. That means you can better collaborate with your current partners and build clear and detailed reports to showcase to potential program-backers.
Contact Julota to get all your questions about their MIH-CP tools answered. The team would be happy to give you a demonstration and prove to you that their services can help your program.