Healthcare Navigator

Part of Memphis Fire Department Emergency Medical Services, the Healthcare Navigator Program provides 911 patients with better care. By partnering with healthcare and community partners, the Healthcare Navigator Program ensures the right response through patient-centered care.

Nearly 25% of all EMS calls are labeled as non-life threatening when dispatched. Sending ambulances to each call creates a ≥$20 million annual loss.

Healthcare Navigator transforms emergency health care 

The traditional emergency response sends an ambulance to each 911 call. In 2019, Memphis Fire Department labeled 35,000 EMS calls as lowest need for care, resulting in overuse of ambulance services. 

Healthcare Navigator transforms a one-size-fits-all emergency response by reevaluating the standard practice of taking all 911 patients to the emergency room, focusing instead on patient-centered care.


A 2017 pilot program resulted in:

60% of TennCare patients diverted from ER

75% did not require an ambulance

80% attended a follow-up with a primary care physician

0% of calls had safety issues

Our Process 

When a caller dials 911 they are connected to a dispatcher. The Priority Dispatch System determines the need for care by asking a series of questions. If an ambulance is not required, the dispatcher determines which Healthcare Navigator team to deploy:

Crisis Assessment and Response to Emergencies (CARE) – Multidisciplinary team responses to complex emergencies, such as suicides or mental and behavioral health crisis

High Utilizer Group (HUG) – HUG navigators work with anyone who calls 911 three times or more within a seven day period to better understand and address the underlying issues leading to 911 usage

Rapid Assessment, Decision, and Redirection (RADAR) – Provides non-ambulance vehicles, evaluation by an emergency physician, limited on-site treatments and linkage to care for non-emergent callers 

Positive Outcomes for All 

  • Increases total health through patient-centered care
  • Reduces emergency room visits and hospitalizations
  • Reserves first responders for true emergencies
  • Cost-effective for insurance providers
  • Lowers medical costs for patients