Evaluation of California’s Community Paramedicine Pilot Program


Janet M. Coffman, Cynthia Wides, Matthew Niedzwiecki and Igor Geyn

Jan. 23, 2017

Community paramedicine (CP), also known as mobile integrated health, is an innovative model of care that is being implemented throughout the United States. The California Emergency Medical Services Authority has sponsored a pilot project under which specially trained paramedics perform duties beyond their traditional roles of responding to 911 calls, transporting patients to emergency departments and performing inter-facility transfers. Healthforce Center has completed an evaluation of the first 16 months of the pilot project which was funded by the California Health Care Foundation. The evaluation found that community paramedics can collaborate successfully with physicians, nurses, behavioral health professionals, and social workers to fill gaps in the health and social services safety net.

Under the pilot, community paramedics provide:

  • Short-term follow-up care after hospital discharge for people with chronic conditions
  • Case management services to frequent users of the emergency medical services (EMS) system
  • Directly observed therapy for people with tuberculosis
  • Collaboration with hospice nurses to reduce unwanted transports of hospice patients to an ED
  • Transportation for people with behavioral health needs to mental health crisis centers
  • Transportation for patients with low-acuity medical conditions to urgent care centers

The evaluation concluded that the post-discharge, frequent EMS user, tuberculosis, hospice, and behavioral health projects are safe, improve patients’ well-being, and, in most cases, generate savings for health insurers and hospitals that exceed the cost of operating these projects. More research on a larger sample of patients is needed to draw conclusions about projects that transport patients to urgent care centers.