Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) teams are rapidly growing across the country. More and more healthcare stakeholders recognize the value and role that MIH can play in closing gaps in a fragmented system.
Research has shown that MIH programs can reduce costly ambulance transports, reduce hospital admissions, and improve quality of life for people in their communities. Caring for people outside the hospital for emergent and non-emergent events has led to significant cost savings, especially for people with chronic conditions that have frequent emergency department visits.
Yet, recognition of this valuable service still lags at the policy and payer levels. Continued standardization of education and programs aims to elevate the field and provide a basis for evaluating quality. MIH program accreditation demonstrates adherence to a high level of standards and provides a familiar blueprint for those making policy decisions.
What Is MIH Program Accreditation?
The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) released the first MIH program standards for accreditation in 2022. Independent organizations as well as MIH programs that are part of a transport service or larger healthcare system may seek accreditation.
Bringing together experts in MIH from around the country, CAMTS spent nearly two years developing the accreditation standards. The final standards are detailed enough to measure what programs are doing, while still flexible enough to be tailored to the services individual MIH programs provide.
“These standards follow the model of all our standards, which is a focus on safety, quality and education,” said Eileen Frazer, CAMTS Executive Director.
Those looking to build an MIH program can also use the standards as a blueprint to follow. The standards list goals for four main areas of any program:
- Management and staffing. This includes detailing the scope of care provided by the team, business practices and team member well-being.
- Quality management. A quality program includes a process for monitoring quality, utilization and safety measures.
- Patient care. These standards include staffing the appropriate service providers for the team’s scope of care and ensuring those team members have necessary training. CAMTS recommends that community paramedics become Board Certified within 2 years of hire.
- Vehicle operations. These standards relate to vehicle use, whether a program-owned vehicle or personal vehicle to ensure safe operation.
The Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services also added a section on MIH teams to their latest standards. The draft is currently undergoing review.
Across EMS, fire responder and healthcare industries, accreditation standards are often more robust than federal, state or local regulations. The same can be said for MIH accreditation standards. Achieving accreditation demonstrates the high level of service and dedication to quality that a team has.
For programs seeking accreditation, they must follow a process to demonstrate adherence to the standards. CAMTS and CAAS include similar steps in their process. The program submits evidence of adherence to the appropriate standards, which then goes through an evaluation process. The accrediting organization will schedule an on-site visit to verify the program complies with standards and then a board or commission reviews the application to make a final decision.
“The biggest impact to teams is often a shift in organizational dynamics,” said Victoria Reinhartz, PharmD, CAMTS board member. “The process of working toward accreditation promotes teamwork, awareness of industry best practices, and encourages each program to reflect on current processes to determine weak areas. Overall, this is the most significant feedback we receive — that the process of pursuing CAMTS accreditation has improved the overall quality of their program.”
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