Collaborations show a paradigm shift for EMS

Innovation lies in local organizations coming together to provide quality, meaningful care to patients both within and outside hospital walls.

In the past couple of days there have been a few more stories showing EMS providers performing un-EMS duties that not only benefit the patient, but the community overall through more effective treatment, lower costs, and greater patient satisfaction.

Moreover, I’m really keen on the level of integration in which these projects are operating. Nurse practitioners paired with medics? Paramedics running a wound care team within a hospital? What could possibly be next?

And that’s my point - anything could be “what’s next” for traditional out-of-hospital personnel, if we only become active partners within our local health care communities. Innovation currently lies in local organizations coming together to synergize their strengths and balance their shortcomings to provide quality, meaningful care to patients both within and outside the hospital walls. It’s incredibly exciting that our industry appears to be in the forefront of dramatic change happening throughout the health care industry.

Of course, I harbor my concerns as well. I fear that we will not be able to adapt quickly enough to integrate new knowledge and principles into the existing EMS scope of practice. Even worse, I continue to hear from readers via social media how we should not be performing these services, that somehow it’s beneath the dignity of our profession.

Really? There’s dignity in being trained to manage maybe 10 percent of the calls we run on effectively, and fumble-bumbling around the other 90 percent because we don’t know what to do with them?

Seriously folks, I believe we are rapidly approaching the tipping point of the so-called paradigm shift for EMS. In fact, it may have already happened - we may not know that for some time. But how we perform our business has changed, and for the better. It’s better for our industry to be more closely integrated with the rest of health care. It’s better for providers, with more venues for work. It’s better for the patient, who gets healthier quicker, and for less money. It’s better for the community - an integrated health system that delivers emergency care when it’s needed, and routine or follow up care when that’s needed.

I’m going to stop using the term “prehospital” in describing what we do. In this day and age, it’s beginning to sound quaint - and dated. Call it field care, out of hospital care, mobile integrated health, community paramedicine; the days of an automatic, needless, ineffective transport to a hospital are going to be over. I only hope that we are brave enough to make it happen.

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