The development of community paramedicine; a restricted review
Shannon B., Eaton G., Lanos C., Leyenaar M., Nolan M., Bowles KA., Williams B., O'Meara P., Wingrove G., Heffern JD., Batt A.
Community paramedic roles are expanding internationally, and no review of the literature could be found to guide services in the formation of community paramedicine programmes. For this reason, the aim of this restricted review was to explore and better understand the successes and learnings of community paramedic programmes across five domains being; education requirements, models of delivery, clinical governance and supervision, scope of roles and outcomes. This restricted review was conducted by searching four databases (CENTRAL, ERIC, EMBASE, MEDLINE and Google Scholar) as well as grey literature search from 2001 until 28/12/2021. After screening, 98 articles were included in the narrative synthesis. Most studies were from the USA (n = 37), followed by Canada (n = 29). Most studies reported on outcomes of community paramedicine programmes (n = 50), followed by models of delivery (n = 28). The findings of this review demonstrate a lack of research and understanding in the areas of education and scope of the role for community paramedics. The findings highlight a need to develop common approaches to education and scope of role while maintaining flexibility in addressing community needs. There was an observable lack of standardisation in the implementation of governance and supervision models, which may prevent community paramedicine from realising its full potential. The outcome measures reported show that there is evidence to support the implementation of community paramedicine into healthcare system design. Community paramedicine programmes result in a net reduction in acute healthcare utilisation, appear to be economically viable and result in positive patient outcomes with high patient satisfaction with care. There is a developing pool of evidence to many aspects of community paramedicine programmes. However, at this time, gaps in the literature prevent a definitive recommendation on the impact of community paramedicine programmes on healthcare system functionality.