In recent years, there has been a noticeable uptick in the number of hospital visits from patients who may only require minimal care, something that, for example, could be provided for them at home. However, many states have laws that stipulate if 911 is called for a medical emergency, then that individual must make a trip to the hospital.
This has caused an increase in insurance payments and, subsequently, premiums and there is a concerted effort in some of these states to help alleviate this financial pressure. At the same time, by reducing the number of times patients may need to actually make a trip to the hospital, it may provide emotional and mental benefits.
As such, in Massachusetts, for example, there is a new push to have EMS (Emergency Medical Services) provide proper care for some patients at home, such as monitoring blood pressure, administering medications, and addressing other health issues that wouldn’t necessarily require a visit to the hospital.
As reported by Leah Samuel for STAT News in the blog, A new role for first responders: providing in-home health care:
“But hospitals and insurers have begun trying to change that story by changing how emergency medicine is delivered. The idea is, instead of transporting patients to the hospital, emergency medical technicians respond to their needs in their own home. Many patient needs — for instance, slightly elevated blood pressure, a dip in blood sugar — are simple enough to not need a trip to the hospital. Avoiding hospitals saves insurers money, is easier on patients, and reduces the risk of hospital-acquired infections.
It’s called mobile integrated health; currently, more than 100 such programs exist nationwide. In Massachusetts, a number of pilot programs in mobile integrated health have sprouted up in recent years. The Department of Public Health has waived certain rules governing EMS providers for two Boston-area pilot programs.”
This pilot program in Boston could transform EMS workers into some level of de facto home health care providers. Visiting nurses often perform many of these same services for their clients, including monitoring vitals, administering medications, dressing wounds, and more. However, most home health care workers run on a schedule and may not be available to assist a client during a perceived emergency (which, it turns out, may not be an ‘emergency’ in the sense of requiring hospitalization).
There are millions of seniors retiring and that often leads to more people needing support and care at home. If this pilot program works, it means there may very well be a new type of home health care aide in the future.
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