Community paramedicine is the future of emergency medical services. But what is the future of community paramedicine?
To explore the future in any industry, a sure-fire strategy is to look at the leading organizations in the field. What are they doing?
A good example is the iPhone. When Apple came out with its touch screen phone, it was a harbinger of what would become standard.
We can do the same with EMS and community paramedicine. We can look at practices leading the field and gather clues about the future.
And the future of community paramedicine looks exciting.
Cutting Edge Community Paramedicine
In the section, you will find a list of possibilities for the future of mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine (MIH-CP).
Community paramedicine of the future will include:
- Better reimbursement for community paramedicine-mobile integrated healthcare
- Higher Education and professional unity
- Advanced field diagnostics
- Advanced provider involvement
- Widespread adoption of alternative destinations
- Integration with community partners
Now, let’s uncoil each of these prospects.
The Future of Community Paramedicine: Sustainable Reimbursement
As it currently stands, community paramedic programs often struggle to obtain sustainable funding and reimbursement. However, there are several ways to achieve adequate funding in EMS. We didn’t say there were easy ways. We said there are several ways.
See our article on how to fund a mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedic program for more details.
However, here are several common ways to fund MIH-CP:
- Grants. One of the most common routes to obtaining initial funding.
- Budget allocation. Setting aside money from your current budget.
- Partnership. Local hospitals are often interested in funding once they see the benefits.
While these options are great for getting a program off the ground, many areas haven’t found them to be long-term solutions.
Of course, starting a pilot program is usually within reach, but where do you go from there? How do you secure long-term resources?
The Future of Funding for Community Paramedicine
Some states have instituted the ability for community paramedic programs to obtain funding directly for their professional services.
States like Minnesota have passed legislation to pay community paramedics for their services. These statutes have given ambulances services and communities the resources to deliver positive patient care.
“We felt that unless we had a secure reimbursement source, the idea of community paramedics would be slow to catch on, or there wouldn’t be any interest at all,” says O.J Doyle, a lobbyist for Minnesota Ambulance Association.
He later states that, while there’s much excitement around community paramedicine, it’s unlikely to thrive without a revenue source.
Historically, ambulances have only been compensated for transporting patients to the emergency room. This idea comes from the early thinking that only regarded paramedics and EMTs as “ambulance drivers” – a misleading term. Indeed, people would think it absurd to call a firefighter a “fire truck driver” or a police officer “a police car driver.”
However, we should afford laypersons some forgiveness, as some of the earliest licenses for EMTs were dubbed “ambulance driver.” And, there are some states where sole ambulances drivers do exist (drivers with no medical training).
However, paramedics now perform considerably more duties than transportation. They treat emergencies using advanced life support techniques and cutting-edge trauma care.
The good news: People all over the country recognize paramedics and EMTs for their value; that’s why there has been (and will continue to be) an opportunity for increased reimbursement for their services.
Further Education for Community Paramedicine
Many in EMS emphasize the importance of continued education for community paramedicine and EMS. Why?
The history of nurses offers a lesson in how community paramedicine can push their profession forward. Nurses knew that a significant push for increased education was necessary to form a professional organization. They knew what they were worth, and they were willing to work for it.
The same thing is happening in community paramedicine across the United States. Many areas now require new paramedics to have an associate degree before obtaining a state license.
For community paramedics, the need for increased uniform education will lead to increased trust in the community – both professionally and otherwise – and a better path to long-term reimbursement.
Advanced Practices and Procedures for Community Paramedicine
As community paramedicine continues to nurture education and grow into a more versatile tool, the future holds opportunities for advanced skills.
When time is of the essence, bring the patient rapidly to the ER. Right? Well, some communities have taken a different approach; instead, they’re bringing the ER – and its advanced equipment – to the patient.
Here are several procedures that are likely to continue expanding in mobile integrated healthcare:
- Point of care blood analysis. Immediate blood analysis gives providers the ability to make earlier treatment and transport decisions.
- Point of care ultrasound. In some systems, ultrasound has been implemented for trauma patients, offering better patient triage.
- Mobile CT scanners/stroke care. These units decrease the timeframe between stroke recognition and definitive care.
Some of these procedures may seem far-fetched, but various services have successfully implemented them.
Read about how the Cleveland Clinic is utilizing mobile CT for stroke patients.
With the addition of advanced practices in the future, we could also see advanced providers.
Advanced Providers and Community Paramedicine
It’s already commonplace for paramedics and nurses to staff mobile integrated healthcare teams. In addition, however, there are many programs with nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and physicians themselves directly involved with community paramedicine.
Many advanced providers have seen their impact on a patient by reaching out directly to them. In essence, providers and practitioners are seeing the benefit of assessing patients in their home environment.
If you’re curious about this movement, you can read about doctors making house calls.
Widespread Adoption of Alternative Destinations
In some areas, the core reason for beginning a community paramedic program was to prevent pileups in the emergency department.
This movement isn’t just about addressing people who are “abusing the system,” it’s about realizing that many patients are unaware of resources besides the emergency department. Or, if they are aware, some of them lack the resources to connect themselves to those institutions.
As the world moves forward and compensation for community paramedic services becomes more widespread, we could see an increase in sustaining alternative destinations.
Here are several common alternative destination sights:
- Urgent care
- Sobriety center
- Community mental health services
- Rehabilitation center
- Primary care physician
EMS still has a long way to go. But, with increased training and a greater chance for reimbursement, EMS departments may be scratching their heads in several years, wondering: why did we ever transport a patient somewhere other than where they needed to go?
This type of rapid shift is not without precedent. For example, once EMS providers discovered that spinal immobilization by back-boarding (once thought to be a necessary procedure on any suspected spinal trauma) wasn’t as effective, there was a rapid swing in protocols and providers around the country.
The Need for Integration within Healthcare
Integration is a common word in the healthcare industry. However, it’s often difficult to wrap our heads around what it means and how it will help the patients and the providers.
Let’s use a story to illustrate how futuristic EMS might operate with seamless integration.
Mark is a paramedic, and he’s responding to a seventy-year-old female who’s having a tight sensation in her chest. She feels lightheaded and is forgetful as she tries to recall medications and medical history.
“What medications do you take?” Mark asks.
“There are so many. They have the list at the hospital.” Replies the patient.
“Sorry ma’am, but we don’t have access to those records,” Mark replies.
This conversation happens every day in the EMS community.
We should ask: does it have to happen? Why can’t Mark access the patient’s health history, especially since he’s currently treating the patient and determining a transport destination?
Let’s go back to the story to see how this ends up.
“She sometimes takes too many pills, accidentally.” Says a family member.
“Do you know what she took?” Mark asks. They shake their head.
In the end, after transporting the woman to the hospital, they discover she accidentally overdosed on her Amlodipine – a calcium channel blocker for high blood pressure.
If Mark had access to better information in the field, he could have treated this ailment, saved time, and prevented further patient suffering.
The people in this story are not real; however, be assured that the story’s essence is accurate. Patients receive less than optimum care because providers are disconnected.
This disjointed environment doesn’t just affect the patients. It also causes ambulance providers to waste time. Time is money, even in healthcare.
Julota: The Mobile Integrated Healthcare Platform of the Future
But what if you could see the medication a patient is taking?
For seamless integration, community paramedicine needs powerful and compliant software and systems. Julota brings communities together, ensuring professionals get the information they need when they need it.
That means no more compromising patient care and no more wasting resources.
Julota is cloud-based so that providers can access the system anywhere. Also, Julota is compliant with all major health privacy bodies, including HIPPA. With Julota, you never have to worry about compromising patient care or privacy.
For a demonstration, Contact Julota today to see how this software is growing with community paramedicine. Learn why Julota is the platform of the present and the future.