The difference between Mobile Integrated Healthcare and Community Paramedicine
Community Paramedicine (CP) and Mobile Integrated Healthcare (MIH) both focus on finding ways to physically bring quality healthcare to those who need it. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they’re not quite the same. What are the differences and functions of each method of care? Read on to find out.
A new and still evolving facet of healthcare, Community Paramedicine was first used in the U.S. in 2001. It expands the scope of paramedics, giving them the training needed to function outside their traditional emergency response and transport roles. In this role, paramedics increase access to primary care for medically underserved populations, like rural communities. They also help to avoid duplicating existing services by facilitating more appropriate uses of healthcare team resources.
CP came before MIH—and is a more commonly used term—but MIH is broader. Specific services a CP program trains paramedics to provide include:
- Chronic disease education and monitoring
- Health assessments
- Hospital discharge follow-up care
- Laboratory specimen collection
- Medication compliance
- Minor medical procedures when approved
- Vaccinations and immunizations
Benefits of CP programs include:
- Reducing overcrowding in Emergency Departments (EDs) by keeping patients who don’t have medically emergent conditions from having to go to the hospital
- Improving continuity of care, in some cases, for patients who would otherwise see an ED doctor and have a follow-up with a different doctor
- Lowering hospital readmissions by providing preventative services for medically underserved communities, including post-discharge care, monitoring chronic illness and targeting high-risk patients
- Saving money and time by providing quality patient care that reduces unnecessary transports to the ED
Mobile Integrated Health is an umbrella term for a more general model or strategy of care. It is patient-centered and focuses on improving patient outcomes by integrating the larger spectrum of community healthcare and technology: nurse triage lines, mental health, social services, public safety, and telemedicine.
CP is one of the many services provided outside of a healthcare facility by a health professional. While community paramedics generally deal with non-emergency cases, other MIH services can address high or low acuity cases.
Other MIH services include:
- Post-hospital discharge follow-ups to provide tools and information, especially to patients with chronic conditions like diabetes and congestive heart failure
- Transporting patients to destinations other than the ED, like urgent care, primary care offices, mental health facilities or detox facilities
- Nurse triage to advise non- urgent 911 callers
As the industry continues to evolve, some organizations have begun using the term
“Community Paramedicine and Mobile Integrated Health (MIH-CP).” To further complicate things, many EMS organizations are broadening and rebranding to “Mobile Health.” The bottom line is that both MIH and CP help patients who need medical attention, but not necessarily a trip to the ED, and aim to provide quality and cost-effective care.
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