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Evaluation Questions for Community Paramedicine Programs

Rural community paramedicine program planners should consider what type of information they would like to learn from the evaluation. Process evaluation questions examine how the program was implemented and what facilitated its successes as well as its challenges. Outcomes evaluation questions focus on the short-term and intermediate effects of the program and whether the program met its intended goals.

When developing evaluation questions, program planners should consider what is measurable in the program, based on the available data and other resources, such as funding and staff time. They should also think carefully about the program's activities and its overall goals. Stakeholders like hospitals, social services providers, home health agencies, and state and local public health departments can also help develop questions that are meaningful and assess program outcomes. One key area to consider is how to demonstrate value. Determining return on investment or building the “business case” is important information to help the program advocate for support or new methods of reimbursement.

This section provides examples of common evaluation questions used by rural community paramedicine programs to understand the impact and benefits of their program in the community.

For additional information about evaluation, please see Evaluation Design in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

Questions for a Process Evaluation

  • What did the organization accomplish during the reporting period?
    • How many people were served?
    • How many sessions were completed?
    • What services were delivered (vaccinations, medication reconciliation, connections to primary care, or other services)?
    • What percentage of patients are receiving referrals to other programs or social services?
  • How did community members or patients perceive the program?
  • How did staff members perceive the program?
  • How well did documentation systems capture program and patient data?
  • How did the referral process to the program work from hospitals/providers/emergency medical services (EMS)? To partner agencies?
  • What were the barriers and challenges that affected program implementation?
  • Who facilitated the implementation of the program?
  • What program activities were not completed and why? If activities changed, why did they change?
  • What are key lessons learned?

Questions for an Outcome Evaluation

  • What were the outcomes of the program?
    • Did the program reduce the frequency of 911 calls?
    • Did the program reduce the number of emergency room visits?
    • Did the program reduce 30-day hospital readmission rates?
    • Did the program reduce medication errors or adverse drug events?
    • Did the program reduce home safety hazards, like fall risks?
    • Did the program connect patients with a primary care provider/medical home?
    • Did the program effectively teach patients how to manage their chronic health conditions?
    • Did the program connect patients with other beneficial local services (Meals on Wheels, physical therapy, and others)?
    • Did the program improve patient quality of life?
  • Did the program result in cost savings to the healthcare system?
    • What aspects of the program were most cost-effective or least cost-effective?
  • Which outcomes are important to the community?