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Rural Health Information Hub

Patient Referrals for Community Paramedicine Programs

Patients can be referred to programs through multiple mechanisms. Depending on the target population identified during program development, referral process may look different. For example, programs targeting frequent emergency medical service (EMS) utilizers often enroll their initial set of patients by identifying high utilizers in their 911 call database. “Frequent” is defined differently by each program but is a metric of the number of 911 calls an individual makes within a certain time frame: for example, five or more calls in a six-month period or three or more calls in a one-month period. To reach additional patients, programs can partner with local hospitals and use their electronic health record (EHR) systems to identify frequent emergency room utilizers who may not call 911 and therefore could be missed in the call database.

A partnership with a hospital also facilitates referrals from hospital staff and can be beneficial for programs interested in serving post-discharge patients.

Primary care providers can refer patients to the program or include community paramedicine services as part of their care plan. To mitigate the chance of program participation refusal, primary care providers should communicate with the patient and explain the benefits of the program before the community paramedic contacts the patient.

Partnering with home healthcare agencies can facilitate program referrals for patients who do not need the level of service home health provides but would benefit from periodic check-ins by a community paramedic. Some potential patients may also be uninsured or otherwise not eligible for home health services.