Developing Community Engagement in Paramedic System transformation - Creating a Road Map to Success

How can we inform the public about alternatives to calling 911 and how can we involve them in designing effective messaging?

Project Description: Hamilton Paramedic Service (HPS) is experiencing an increase in 911 call volumes resulting in system strain. Several initiatives are underway to mitigate the underlying growth related to an aging population, increasing mental health and addictions issues and a growing trend that people are becoming sicker earlier in their life. One way to help address peoples' health is to educate the public regarding what Paramedics can and can't do. This has been tried in several other jurisdictions with varying success. In cases where there has been some success, a marketing & communication plan approach enabled easier change.

In addition, and closely related to the marketing plan approach, Patient driven co-design of health systems has been shown to be very beneficial. Most health care organizations now have a "patient council" that is involved in guiding and providing feedback to proposed system changes. Ontario Health, the new initiative by the current government, has made this a key feature of any groups that want to apply as an "Ontario Health Team". In fact the current Minister of Health comes from a very strong patient advocacy background and is very supportive of these initiatives. HPS and Hamilton would be the first Paramedic service in Ontario to incorporate a Patient Council into it's future and current design.

HPS is 'throwing the gauntlet down' and is looking for students who would like to take on the challenge of helping us to create these system transformation tools. We are looking for two teams to assist us with our goals. The first would explore the use of various media to more effectively pass on the message of the proper reasons for calling 911 by developing a series of marketing ideas as well as an implementation plan. The second group would provide primary and/or secondary research that would inform us about the best practices of patient councils that already exist in different health care sectors in Hamilton which would provide the necessary background in order to move forward with our plan of implementing our own

City Staff:  Joe Pedulla, Superintendent - Community Paramedicine

Instructor(s): Katie Moisse, McMaster University

Department: School of Interdisciplinary Science/Life Sciences

Students: 150

Course: LIFESCI 3P03: Science Communication in the Life Sciences

Deliverable(s): Students will research the challenge and form an outline for their strategy/campaign. Students will submit their final reports, which will consist of a communication strategy rooted in evidence and an example of what they are proposing to use. The top 10-15 groups will share their proposals in a community challenge Pitchfest.

Location: City wide

City Strategy Priority: Community Engagement and Participation, Healthy and Safe Communities, Culture and Diversity