How many of you have heard of the term community paramedicine? Until recently, this term was a foreign phrase to me. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, community paramedicine is an organized system of services, based on local need, provided by emergency medical technicians and paramedics, that is integrated into the local or regional health care system and overseen by emergency and primary care physicians. The impetus behind this program is the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA is placing emphasis on prevention, wellness and improved health outcomes at a reduced cost, while encouraging new delivery models. One potential new delivery model is the expansion of the role of the paramedic, to that of the community paramedic.
In this program the community paramedic is viewed as an extension to the primary care provider (PCP) by delivering services in the home, such as case management and nursing care including immunizations, medication administration, wound care and patient education. Paramedics could be engaged to reduce hospital re-admissions, identify unsafe home environments, improve patient compliance with medical regimens, reduce delays in receiving primary care and meet the need for alternatives to ED care for those who do not require transport to an ED.
This is my question for all of you: Should we embrace community paramedicine as an alternative venue for patients to receive care, or should we be concerned that this program may ultimately take jobs away from nurses? I would be interested in your thoughts.
Have a great weekend!