Increasingly, paramedics are being employed (literally) to fill gaps in urgent care staffs around the country. The level of real-world experience and knowledge capable paramedics bring to the table make them well suited for a variety of tasks, from training medical assistants (MAs) to providing clinical care. Consider the following:

  • Paramedics have more advanced skills than an MA, but not as much as a registered nurse (hence, they do not command as high a price as an RN would).
  • Unlike a typical MA, paramedics are trained in advanced life support and can assist with IVs. They know medical terms, medications, are well practiced in phlebotomy, can read an EKG, and can work well as a member of a clinical delivery team.
  • It’s typical for a paramedic to work 24-hour shifts for the fire department, followed by several days off. This leaves them available for part-time work in an urgent care center while they also collect a salary and benefits from the fire department.

On a broader scale, paramedics are being utilized to cut costs at the state level in Minnesota, with Massachusetts studying how it might be able to do the same. The idea is that paramedics can evaluate patients who’ve called for emergency care and, when appropriate, treat them in the home instead of transporting them to the emergency room, where they’re likely to incur higher costs than necessary (after waiting hours for the pleasure of doing so). MassLive, a Massachusetts news website, detailed one case in which a patient with anxiety, diabetes, and congestive heart failure called for assistance, believing they were feeling ill effects of low blood sugar. The paramedics on the scene ultimately determined that the patient was dehydrated, administered saline on the spot, and advised the patient to see their primary care physicians the next day. No ED bill, no waiting, and no stressful ambulance trip.

A physician employed by a large insurer in Massachusetts advises that working with paramedics achieves “a triple aim through one intervention: You improve patient satisfaction and the quality of care they receive, as well as decrease the costs.”

In short, as devised in the Minnesota program, paramedics help patients get the immediate care they need without cluttering the emergency room with nonemergent complaints, saving both time and money for the patient and payer. Sound familiar?

The next time you’re evaluating your staff needs or going over your own patient satisfaction scores, consider whether paramedics could help you boost profitability while also increasing the quality of care your center is able to offer.

Could Paramedics Help Solve Your Staffing Challenges?
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