Emerging trends in EMS grants

In 2017, expect substance abuse, mental illness, innovative technology and collaborative solutions to be top trends in EMS grant funding


The top three emerging trends in EMS grants reflect the shift in health care toward value amid political uncertainty. EMS organizations will need to adapt, innovate and build new programs. This is a different approach for EMS providers who are widely seen as transport for emergent and non-emergent patients to the hospital. Here are the top three trends that are expected to be widely funded by government, private and partnership agencies.

1. Substance abuse and mental illness

One in five adults in the United States experience mental illness, costing more than $440 billion each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness [1]. All too often, these patients go to emergency departments via EMS — accounting for an estimated one in eight patients in the emergency department [2]. Emergency departments are not staffed to appropriately handle people with mental health issues that are often coupled with substance abuse issues.

Some health systems are partnering with EMS and local resources to address this problem. Alternative destinations for these patients, such as specialized psychiatric emergency departments or non-profit integrated behavioral health care clinics, can be a solution. In North Carolina, 11 EMS agencies are assisting the community with those in mental health and substance abuse crisis through grants provided by the Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substances Abuse Services in collaboration with the N.C. Office of Emergency Medical Services. There are similar programs in Georgia and Colorado. 

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