Community paramedicine has been a paradigm shift for the use of paramedics in the US- and Arizona has been a national leader. It’s a new model in which paramedics function outside their usual emergency response & transport roles- delving into the world of primary care. As the health care world increasingly shifts toward prevention and well care- the system will increasingly demand more folks that can function in a community health (primary care and prevention) role. Community paramedicine is increasingly being recognized as a promising solution to efficiently increase access to care (especially for underserved populations).
For example- paramedics could shift from a sole focus on emergency response to things like: 1) providing follow-up care for folks recently discharged from the hospital to prevent unnecessary readmissions; 2) providing community-based support for people with diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure, or multiple chronic conditions; and/or 3) partnering with community health workers and primary care providers in underserved areas to provide preventive care.
One component of Community Paramedicine is known as “Treat and Refer” and it has really taken a step forward in the last couple of years in Arizona. A couple of years ago the initiative was launched under the leadership of AzPHA Members David Harden, Terry Mullins, Dr. Ben Bobrow and others at the ADHS.
It’s called the Arizona Treat and Refer Recognition Program and was developed in partnership with the ADHS Bureau of EMS & Trauma Systems, AHCCCS, and the EMS community. Organizations that earn Treat and Refer recognition implement the program under the direction of their medical director and chief executive. Once recognized, the EMS Agency can seek reimbursement from AHCCCS for the services they provide. You can check out the AHCCCS website to learn more about provider registration.
Five EMS agencies have now been recognized as Treat & Refer EMS agencies. The T&R Program establishes a means for recognized EMS agencies demonstrating optimal patient safety and quality of care by matching treatment, transport, and care destination options to the needs of the 9-1-1 patient; and provide recognized EMS agencies the opportunity to seek reimbursement from AHCCCS.
The ADHS Bureau of EMS & Trauma Systems offers a pre-application technical review service to EMS agencies considering applying for recognition. The service includes a comprehensive review of EMS agencies’ education modules, standing orders, patient follow-up process, and performance improvement/quality assurance process.