Community paramedicine: a trend that repurposes emergency medical services to provide in-home chronic disease management and follow-up care

Paramedics traditionally respond to emergencies, stabilize patients and rush them to hospitals, but a new approach to providing care could have EMS responders thinking long term: Community paramedicine programs use emergency medical personnel to provide in-home care. “Paramedics are taught to think about the next 30 minutes,” says Gary Wingrove, director of Government Relations and Strategic Affairs at Gold Cross/Mayo Clinic Medical Transport, “but now they need to think about the next 30 days.”

One advantage of an in-home visit is that it lets care providers take stock of patients’ living environments, says Douglas Kupas, the associate chief academic officer for simulation and medical education at Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa. They might suggest improvements, such as reconciling a patient’s planned drug regimen with what the patient is actually taking, or working with a building manager to move a patient with heart disease from the fourth floor of a walk-up apartment building to the first.

Already, there are more than 230 community paramedicine programs in the United States, with more than 560 in development.