Community Paramedics Aim to Lower Health Costs via Home Care

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , February 13, 2013

Primary care providers and other clinicians have long recognized the importance of home-based healthcare services as a cost-effective and proactive means of monitoring vulnerable patients to keep them healthy and out of the hospital.

Unfortunately, home health nursing uses a strict and narrow set of eligibility guidelines that often disqualify many people who could otherwise benefit from those services.

With that in mind Minnesota has become a national leader in a movement to create and use certified "community paramedics" to monitor and provide non-emergent care for patients in their homes.

Barb Andrews, RN, a veteran EMT, was one of the first providers in her area to achieve certification as a community paramedic. She now serves as the manager of the Urgency Center & Community Paramedic Program at North Memorial Clinic in the Twin Cities suburb of Robbinsdale, MN.

"Our healthcare structure is broken and people are falling through the cracks every day. We need to figure out who we can use to catch these people as they are falling," Andrews tells HealthLeaders Media. "Because regulations and the expense of home health nurses make it difficult to get people the services they need community paramedics offer extensive background experience and abilities at a fraction of the cost of a nurse."

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