It’s late at night. A siren cuts through the still Boston air. Grinding through traffic, long after 8 o’clock, still makes for a slow trip. The paramedics roll to another call, but they’re not just going about their normal routine; they’ll soon be providing direct medical attention and treatment to an individual at home. That aging senior won’t be taking a trip in the ambulance to the hospital; she will be remaining home, so long as no major complications have arisen.
In Boston and other regions across the country, this is the new reality as hospitals seek to reduce readmission rates and the length of hospital stays. Not only are people turning to home health care providers, they are also beginning to rely on paramedics for direct medical attention when apparent emergencies arise.
Home visits have grown in popularity because not only does this provide more comfort to a client, especially an elderly man or woman, it also helps to reduce costs. While visiting nurses and home care providers have become instrumental in allowing people to remain home, paramedics are also becoming integral to the home care sector.
According to The Boston Globe, in its article, A new role for paramedics: treating patients at home, written by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey:
“Since late 2014, paramedics have completed more than 2,300 home visits for Commonwealth Care patients with lung disease, heart failure, chest pain, dehydration, UTIs, and other medical issues. About 82 percent of the time, paramedics were able to treat patients at home. Other patients were deemed sick enough to be sent to hospitals.
All the avoided hospital visits have saved Commonwealth Care at least $6 million, according to company officials. They estimate that paramedics can treat patients at home at one-third the cost of hospital emergency rooms.
“This replaces an urgent care visit, this replaces an ER visit,” said Dr. John Loughnane, the chief of innovation at Commonwealth Care.
“The paramedics are my eyes and ears,” Loughnane added. “They can take a picture and upload it. They take direction of what I think is the appropriate [evaluation and treatment plan].””
Massachusetts is adding more money to the state budget through the Department of Public Health for its mobile integrated health program. By combining this with the support of home care aides and visiting nurses, it not only helps to improve the quality of care for each resident, it also helps to reduce overall health care costs for the entire state.
Paramedics may not be thought of as a part of the home care sector, but as many agencies are connecting with hospitals and doctors to find ways to provide improved support for patients, they may become another key tool that helps people stay healthy and safe at home.