The landmark 1996 EMS Agenda for the Future called for EMS to add service lines and, therefore, value to the communities it served through:
“Community-based health management…. fully integrated with the overall health care system…able to identify and modify illness and injury risks…able to provide acute illness and injury care and follow-up, and, able to contribute to treatment of chronic conditions and community health monitoring…”
Beginning in the early years of the new millennium, a handful of innovative EMS agencies began to offer community healthcare services often called “community paramedicine” (CP) to their patients.
As the cost of healthcare continued to skyrocket while the overall health of the U.S. population declined, health care payers - both private insurance companies and the federal government, through Medicare and Medicaid - began transitioning from a fee-for-service payment model that links payment to the quantity of care provided to a payment model linked to the quality of care provided and measurable patient outcomes. As a result, previous distinct healthcare delivery entities including hospitals, physician groups, nursing homes, and many others, began to coordinate the care they provide resulting in the creation of large “integrated healthcare delivery systems.”
Today, hundreds of EMS agencies across the nation, of all sizes and types are partnering with hospitals, primary care physicians, nurses, and mental health and social services providers on innovative programs that navigate patients to the right level of care. The goal: to lower costs, improve care, and enable EMS practitioners–including EMTs, Paramedics and Community Paramedics–to use their skills and resources to help solve the problems facing healthcare systems and communities.