The Rio Rico Medical and Fire District recently became Arizona’s sixth emergency medical services (EMS) agency to be recognized as a Treat and Refer EMS agency by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). The Treat and Refer Recognition Program increases patient access to primary and preventive care. The program recognizes EMS agencies that demonstrate optimal patient quality of care by matching treatment, transport, and care destination options to the needs of the patient rather than automatically transporting all patients to an emergency department.

EMS providers routinely encounter 911 patients needing health-related assistance, but they do not require ambulance transport to an emergency department. When EMS agencies can treat a patient at their home or transport the patient to a more appropriate facility to meet patient need, they are supporting improved patient care and reducing the burden on the emergency department system.

EMS agencies participating in the Treat and Refer Program are eligible to seek reimbursement. To support cost recovery for EMS agencies utilizing the Treat and Refer model, ADHS worked with EMS providers and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to formalize a Treat and Refer program in 2017.

In addition to Rio Rico Medical and Fire District, the other five recognized Treat and Refer EMS Agencies are the Buckeye Fire-Medical-Rescue Department; the Chandler Fire, Health and Medical Department; Golden Ranch Fire District; Surprise Fire-Medical Department; and Tempe Fire-Medical Rescue Department.

ADHS offers technical assistance to EMS agencies interested in being recognized as a Treat and Refer agency. The technical assistance includes pre-application technical reviews, question and answer site visits, roadshows, and resources on the ADHS Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Systems website. I encourage interested EMS agencies to take advantage of these resources. Please contact David Harden for more information.