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Rural Health Information Hub

Importance of Sustainability Planning for Community Paramedicine

A sustainability plan outlines strategies and practices that will continue a community paramedicine program after the initial grant period or implementation phase ends. A sustainability plan should identify the key elements of the program — including staffing, technology resources, services, and partnerships — and outline strategies to maintain each component. In addition, it should describe how early results and findings will be shared with stakeholders and policymakers to obtain their buy-in and support.

The Program Sustainability Assessment Tool, developed by the Center for Public Health Systems Science, is an online self-assessment questionnaire. It provides a score for eight program processes and structures, including organizational capacity, strategic planning, and partnerships. Program staff can use this tool to guide their sustainability planning activities and engage with stakeholders about gaps or challenges.

Some community paramedicine programs have found it challenging to transition from a grant to alternative funding sources. Without advance planning, communities may be unprepared to support program services that were being provided under the grant at no direct cost. As a result, emergency medical services (EMS) providers should begin sustainability planning early in the life of the grant to build relationships with potential funders and to collect data that demonstrate the program's value.

Other key steps to take include:

  • Identify and grow program champions who can build support for the program with funders and policymakers
  • Establish and maintain strong partnerships within the healthcare system and the community
  • Create a funding source, such as a partnership with an accountable care organization or a local mill levy, to cover program costs
  • Develop a process to train and support future community paramedics
  • Plan for future challenges and developing strategies to approach them

For more information, see RHIhub's list of sustainability resources as well as information about grant writing and capital funding for rural communities.