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Benefits of Community Paramedicine for Rural Community Health

Communities have started to examine the best ways to use their emergency medical services (EMS) resources efficiently. Community paramedicine programs are one innovation that can particularly benefit rural populations because many people in rural communities have limited access to other types of healthcare. These programs are designed to supplement existing primary care, the public health infrastructure, and fill existing service gaps.

Community paramedicine services can help their communities by:

Reducing the burden on other providers. By treating patients in their homes or other locations outside the clinic, community paramedics reduce the number of patients in hospital beds, nursing homes, or emergency rooms.

Reducing unnecessary transports. In some situations, community paramedics can provide the appropriate level of care to individuals who call for help with non-emergent issues. For example, a community paramedic could assess and treat a patient who had a minor fall in their home and determine whether or not additional care and transportation to the hospital are needed.

Increasing access to primary care. Through home visits, community paramedics can provide traditional primary care services to patients. These can include routine vaccinations; wound care; or checkups for patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, or other chronic conditions. Programs may also help fill the needs of uninsured or underinsured patients who are otherwise unable to access services from home health agencies.

Improving quality of life. Through increased access to care, community paramedics provide individuals with services like home modifications that will improve patient quality of life and potentially allow them to stay independent in their own home for longer.

Supporting mobile integrated healthcare. Because community paramedics have already established relationships with healthcare providers outside of EMS, their role can bridge gaps between existing services and bring those services out into the community.

Resources to Learn More

Community Paramedicine Impact Reference Guide
Provides citations and descriptions of journal articles that describe or quantify the impact of community paramedicine programs. Includes information about the goals and services provided by the program, including reduction of 911 calls, safety inspections, health promotion, and transportation to an alternative destination.
Organization(s): National Rural Health Resource Center; Paramedic Foundation
Date: 5/2020

The Evidence for Community Paramedicine in Rural Areas: State and Local Findings and the Role of the State Flex Program
Examines the evidence base for community paramedicine in rural areas using information derived from surveys and interviews of state emergency medicine service (EMS) officials, directors of state offices of rural health (SORH), and Flex coordinators. Outlines the roles of community paramedics, challenges with implementation, and activities of state Flex programs in supporting the implementation of community paramedicine programs in rural communities.
Author(s): Pearson, K., Gale, J., & Shaler, G.
Organization(s): Flex Monitoring Team
Date: 2/2014

Mobile Integrated Healthcare and Community Paramedicine (MIH-CP)
Provides an overview of mobile integrated healthcare and community paramedicine. Outlines the role of community paramedicine and challenges organizations may encounter when establishing a program. Includes three case studies.
Organization(s): National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians