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Community Paramedicine: A Promising Model for Integrating Emergency and Primary Care

Kenneth W. Kizer, Karen Shore, and Aimee Moulin, UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement

Can paramedics improve the efficiency of emergency resources and enhance access to primary care for the medically underserved through a new model of care called "community paramedicine"?

Community paramedicine (CP) is a locally designed, community-based, collaborative model of care that leverages the skills of paramedics and emergency medical services (EMS) systems to take advantage of collaborations between EMS and other health care and social service providers. Community paramedics receive specialized training in addition to general paramedicine training and work within a designated program under local medical control as part of a community-based team of health and social services providers.

CP is a new and evolving model of health care in which paramedics function outside their customary emergency response and transport roles. The purpose is to facilitate more appropriate use of emergency care resources and enhance access to primary care for medically underserved populations. CP programs often take advantage of locally developed collaborations among emergency medical services and other health care and social service providers.

Community paramedicine can include pre-hospital services such as transporting patients with specified conditions not needing emergency care to alternative locations, releasing a person at the scene of an emergency response rather than transporting them, or helping frequent 911 callers to access primary care or other social services. CP also can include posthospital services such as follow-up care for recently discharged patients, chronic condition support, and preventive care.

This report, by the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement and supported by CHCF, makes recommendations for CP in California:

  • Work on clarifying issues such as program purpose, education, training, scope of practice, and medical supervision.
  • Consider pilot or demonstration projects to further refine and evaluate the role of CP in the state.

Interest in this model of care has grown substantially in recent years because of its potential to increase access to care, improve quality, and reduce costs.

The complete report is available on the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement website through the External Link below.

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