Case Study: Memphis Fire Department

Healthcare Navigator Program (Memphis, TN)

The Cigna Foundation partnered with and provided programmatic support for the Memphis, Tennessee-based Memphis Fire Department’s Healthcare Navigator Program (HCN) in 2020. The initiative focused on good health and well-being and on reducing inequalities, and it aligns with UN SDGs 3 “Good Health and Well-Being” and 10 “Reduced Inequalities.”

In Memphis, Tennessee over 20 percent of the 911 calls the fire department receives each year are for nonemergency issues that may be better addressed in a community-based care setting. The Cigna Foundation provided funding for the Memphis Fire Department’s HCN Program, which serves the entire Memphis community while focusing on three at-risk populations: vulnerable persons, persons with behavioral health conditions, and persons who are homeless or housing insecure. HCN is designed to reduce unnecessary emergency medical service (EMS) transport utilization while also navigating low-acuity patients to the most appropriate resource.

Within the HCN program, there are currently four teams designed to better connect 911 callers with the right level of care. The Healthcare Navigator Team includes a behavioral health specialist; registered nurse for telephone consultations; on-scene care; and referral, engagement, and monitoring of 911 calls by professional medical providers. Additionally, the Fire Department launched the RADAR (Rapid Assessment, Decision, and Redirection) Program during the COVID-19 pandemic. The RADAR Program consists of two non-ambulance vehicles that respond to nonemergency medical calls 12 hours a day, seven days a week. The RADAR-1 vehicle is staffed by a paramedic, a physician (or nurse practitioner or physician assistant), and a social worker. The RADAR-2 vehicle is staffed with two paramedics and is connected to the RADAR-1 physician via a telemedicine platform.

2020 Social Impact Metrics

  • 69 percent of 911 calls that were processed did not result in ambulance transport to an emergency department
  • Over 1,500 calls responded to by RADAR staff
  • More than 80 percent of patients were not transported via ambulance
  • Approximately 60 percent of patients were diverted from emergency department visits via the form of onsite care, a physician office visit, or a behavioral facility intervention
  • 40 percent of 911 calls were handled via the telemedicine platform
Two Memphis fire fighters on the job