Programs designed to address overuse of EMS services
Like others across the country, the Newport News Fire Department continues to face a growing problem of citizens utilizing emergency medical services to address needs commonly met through other agencies including the community services board, human services or primary care physicians. In 2016, NNFD had 193 patients call for emergency medical services five times or more, with the top 10 patients calling between 13 and 48 times each.
Already in 2017 the department has had one patient call 25 times.
In March, the department began tracking these patients and identifying their needs in order to develop an approach to better address those needs and decrease system usage. The patient calls were for various reasons ranging from inadequate self-care, frequent falls, and medication and healthcare access issues to sometimes simply abuse of the system for transportation to a location near the hospital.
Earlier this month, NNFD met with representatives from the Newport News Police Department, Peninsula Health District, Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board, Department of Human Services, and the City Manager's Office to discuss the increase in use of emergency medical services for non-emergent needs. The group is working to implement Mobile Integrated Healthcare and Community Paramedicine programs to address this issue. The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
defines Mobile Integrated Healthcare and Community Paramedicine as the provision of healthcare using patient-centered, mobile resources in the out-of-hospital environment. This could include services such as providing telephone advice to 9-1-1 callers instead of dispatching resources; community paramedicine care, chronic disease management, preventive care or post-discharge follow-up visits; or transport or referral to a broad spectrum of appropriate care. The overarching goal is to improve the health of the community by connecting patients with community resources that can meet their needs while ensuring EMS assets are available for priority and critical calls.