Nine years ago, Williamson County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was searching for a way to reduce 911 calls from residents with non-emergency issues while more effectively addressing their needs. Their modern-day answer looked a little like medicine from the past century --- the house call.
By doing research, EMS was able to identify people who were high utilizers of EMS. Based on the outcomes of those calls, they determined that many of these people could best be helped with proactive chronic disease education or referrals to other services, rather than an ambulance ride to the hospital. So in March 2014, the Community Health Paramedic program (CHP) was born.
The CHP team is comprised of three paramedics. In 2022, they received a total of 281 patient referrals, an increase of 21.7% over the previous year. Patients are selected to enroll in the program through referrals. Referrals come from hospitals, first responder agencies, partner organizations such as Bluebonnet Trails Community Services and the Williamson County and Cities Health District, or by being identified as high utilizers of EMS. A high utilizer is someone who has three or more calls to EMS for service in the previous 90 days. Referrals from the public are not eligible.
CHP paramedics use ESO’s Electronic Health Record to gather patient demographics to provide resources for these patients. They schedule in-person visits with patients in their home to do routine tests, such as blood pressure checks, and identify other needs, such as removing fall risks or providing medical equipment to vulnerable populations.
Since launching the Community Health Paramedic program, Williamson County EMS has seen on average an 80% or greater reduction in use by high utilizers of emergency services.
"Our program has grown by leaps and bounds in the last nine years. Our partnerships with other services are key in the efficient delivery of services to the most vulnerable in our county. We continue to fill gaps and connect individuals to services while providing them with health education and access to care so that they may live their healthiest life in our community," said Amy Jarosek, clinical captain of the Community Health Paramedic program.