A growing number of hospital systems are teaming up with emergency medical professionals to provide care for certain patients at home with the aim of reducing hospital readmission rates.
While programs like these are popular in Texas, North Carolina and Minnesota, it’s a newer trend for the Midstate and Pennsylvania, reports The Sentinel.
West Shore EMS started a program at Camp Hill, Pa.-based Holy Spirit Health System last April. So far, six patients have been treated through the program — but program leaders say they expect that number to grow.
The program aims to reduce readmissions to the hospital by having a trained paramedic, who is assigned as non-emergency for that shift, stop by patients’ houses and check to make sure they received their medicines and know how to take them.
“It’s really about trying to keep people at home,” Paul Christophel, the executive director for West Shore EMS, tells The Sentinel, adding that it meets a need of those patients who need help managing their health care, but are not eligible for home health-care options. “We have to educate our own health-care partners as well as the community.”
The program at Holy Spirit is referral-based and mostly focused on congestive heart failure patients who don’t qualify for home health care, but those services may also expand as more clients come on board.
Harrisburg, Pa.-based PinnacleHealth System began offering a Community Paramedic Program in January of last year. As part of the program, paramedics make home visits in the days and a week after discharge to make sure that the patient understands the physician’s instructions and that everything is well.
Because health care is trending toward more outpatient care and fewer invasive, inpatient procedures and appointments, it will likely catch on more in the coming years, Christophel says.
“I think probably, at some point, we’re going to see the volumes increase, and we’ll have to dedicate more people to do it,” he says. “There will come a time where it starts to have a lot more referrals once people are educated about it. We’re not replacing anyone, and we’re not doing something new, it’s just filling in the gaps to make sure that people get the care that they need.”
Read the full article here.
Written by Cassandra Dowell