Community paramedicine (CP) is an evolving method of providing community-based health care in which paramedics function outside of their traditional emergency response roles in order to improve access to primary and preventive health care and to basic social services. Early evidence indicates that CP programs have contributed to reducing health care utilization and improving patient outcomes leading some to call for a transformation of EMS into value-based mobile healthcare fully integrated within an interprofessional care team. The purpose of this scoping review was to understand the evidence base of CP in order to inform the further evolution of this model of care. Following the PRISMA extension for Scoping Reviews, 1,163 titles were screened by our research team. Eligibility criteria were publication in English after January 1, 2000; description of a CP program located in a Western nation; and inclusion of a discussion of outcomes. Twenty-nine publications met the criteria for inclusion. The literature was varied in terms of study design, program purpose, and target audience. The lack of rigorous, longitudinal studies with control groups makes rendering conclusions as to the value and effectiveness of CP programs difficult. Further, the extent to which community paramedics operate within interprofessional teams remains unclear. However, some programs demonstrated improvement in both health services and patient outcomes. As stakeholders continue to explore the potential of CP, results of this review highlight the importance of further investigation of outcomes, the professional identity of the community paramedic, and the role of the community paramedic on interprofessional teams.
Keywords: Community paramedicine; interprofessional collaboration; interprofessional practice; professional boundaries; systematic review.