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Patient assessment is a fundamental feature of community paramedicine, but the absence of a recognized standard for assessment practices contributes to uncertainty about what drives care planning and treatment decisions. Our objective was to summarize the content of assessment instruments and describe the state of current practice in community paramedicine home visit programs.
We performed an environmental scan of all community paramedicine programs in Ontario, Canada, and used content analysis to describe current assessment practices in home visit programs. The International Classification on Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) was used to categorize and compare assessments. Each item within each assessment form was classified according to the ICF taxonomy.
A total of 43 of 52 paramedic services in Ontario, Canada, participated in the environmental scan with 24 being eligible for further investigation through content analysis of intake assessment forms. Among the 24 services, 16 met inclusion criteria for content analysis. Assessment forms contained between 13 and 252 assessment items (median 116.5, IQR 134.5). Most assessments included some content from each of the domains outlined in the ICF. At the subdomain level, only assessment of impairments of the functions of the cardiovascular, hematological, immunological, and respiratory systems appeared in all assessments.
Although community paramedicine home visit programs may differ in design and aim, all complete multi-domain assessments as part of patient intake. If community paramedicine home visit programs share similar characteristics but assess patients differently, it is difficult to expect that the resulting referrals, care planning, treatments, or interventions will be similar.
The aim of this study is to identify the types of community paramedicine programs and the training for each.
A systematic review of MEDLINE, Embase, grey literature, and bibliographies followed a search strategy using common community paramedicine terms. All studies published in English up to January 22, 2018, were captured. Screening and extraction were completed in duplicate by two independent reviewers. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT) was used to assess studies’ methodological quality (full methodology on PROSPERO: CRD42017051774).
From 3,004 papers, there were 64 papers identified (58 unique community paramedicine programs). Of the papers with an appraisable study design (40.6%), the median MMAT score was 3 of 4 criteria met, suggesting moderate quality. Programs most often served frequent 911 callers (48.3%) and individuals at risk for emergency department admission, readmission, or hospitalization (41.4%); and 70.7% of programs were preventive home visits. Common services provided were home assessment (29.5%), medication management (39.7%), and referral and/or transport to community services (37.9%); and 77.6% of programs involved interprofessional collaboration. Community paramedicine training was described by 57% of programs and expanded upon traditional paramedicine training and emphasized technical skills. Study heterogeneity prevented meta-analysis.
Community paramedicine programs and training were diverse and allowed community paramedics to address a spectrum of population health and social needs. Training was poorly described. Enabling more programs to assess and report on program and training outcomes would support community paramedicine growth and the development of formalized training or education frameworks.
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