Telehealth in Home-Based Primary Care May Expand Career Paths for Emergency Medical Technicians
Keywords:emergency medical technicians, EMT career, EMS role expansion, home based primary care, older adults, telehealth, HBPC
Objective: A growing body of literature supports emergency medical services (EMS) personnel acting in expanded roles to address acute conditions in the prehospital setting. While paramedic-based programs have shown great promise, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), who make up a larger percentage of the total number of nationally certified EMS personnel, are far less utilized. In this paper, a telehealth care delivery model utilizing emergency medical technicians (EMTs) as a primary care provider (PCP) extender is used as a case study to investigate EMT perceptions of this expanded role as an additional career avenue by assessing the participating EMTs’ feedback on current EMT career outlook and their experience with the MTT program.
Design: Two semi-structured focus groups were conducted. A deductive thematic analysis approach was used to analyze the focus group transcripts.
Setting: A home-based primary care program and Emergency Medicine Service agency in New York.
Participants: Four EMTs.
Intervention: The model, called Mobile Telemedicine Technician (MTT), used EMTs with additional training as telehealth facilitators who examined patients in the home and connected them with their remotely located PCPs.
Main Outcome Measure: Qualitative data from focus groups.
Results: The EMTs’ sentiments from the focus groups were majority positive in regards to program structure, EMT responsibilities as physician extenders, and having an expanded role in HBPC. Three themes emerged from the focus groups: 1) Perceptions of the MTT model, 2) EMT Career Mobility, and 3) Considerations for Future iterations and Similar Programs.
Conclusions: This analysis of the EMTs perceptions of the Mobile Telemedicine Technician (MTT) program demonstrates its potentiality as an additional EMS career path. This model provided a less physically and emotionally demanding option that encouraged building clinical expertise and relationships with patients. The results also elucidate the desire for expanding models of this kind and opportunities to learn new concepts like palliative care medicine. Models such as the MTT program could increase HBPC workforce and help retain a wealth of knowledge. However, continued and permanent regulatory changes will be necessary for long-term sustainability of this and other innovative EMT-based models.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Karen Abrashkin, A. Camille McBride, Olushola Latus-Olaifa, Jonathan Washko, Jonathan Berkowitz, Jill Slaboda, Trever Ball, Amparo Abel-Bey
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