In the US, paramedics are taking on a new role to keeping patients out of the hospital and close the gap between home care and hospital care, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

An initiative, called community paramedicine, is training the fast responders in chronic disease management, medication compliance and home safety. Paramedics are then sent on scheduled house calls to frail and elderly patients or those who have trouble managing chronic conditions like heart failure and diabetes.

Community paramedics take vital signs, administer IV medications, and perform lab tests as well as help patients understand follow-up instructions after being discharged from a hospital. They check for risks such as where patients could fall in their homes and whether they understand their medical regimens. They also work with doctors, nurses, dietitians and physical therapists to coordinate future care.