Innovative “paramedicine” partnership holds great promise for improving care
June 5, 2014 § 2 Comments
In keeping with Commonwealth Care Alliance’s mission to reduce emergency room visits and hospital stays, control costs, and provide high-quality person-centered care to members in their homes, a pilot project is in the works for this summer that will expand the role of paramedics beyond emergency care.
As reported this past Saturday in the Boston Globe, Commonwealth Care Alliance and the ambulance company EasCare will deploy specially trained paramedics to provide in-home treatment for minor problems and injuries, as well as the management of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. The program is expected to involve some 2,000 Commonwealth Care Alliance members in the Boston area.
Dr. Toyin Ajayi, hospitalist medical director and director of transitional medicine at Commonwealth Care Alliance, says the pilot represents a “sea change in the way paramedics think.” In most cases, she explains, “paramedics stabilize a patient and bring them to the emergency room.” As a result, “paramedics are evaluated on how quickly they can get patients to the hospital.” But, she says, with this program, “paramedics will be asked to stay in the home as long as needed to address a patient’s needs.”
On-call paramedicine can fill a gap “when a provider can’t get to a patient,” Ajayi asserts. “This approach fits our need to provide comprehensive, home-based care 24 hours a day.”
For the upcoming pilot, CCA has developed a comprehensive training program with EasCare. According to Ajayi, the “paramedics understand the need for this kind of in-home care,” and the interview process for potential candidates has been “inspiring and reassuring.”
Paramedicine, also known as “integrated mobile health care,” has been effective in reducing hospital visits and cutting medical expenses in small pilot projects in places such as Texas and Nova Scotia, Ajayi reports. “We’ve seen impressive outcomes,” she says.
This summer’s pilot program, Ajayi believes, has great promise for success. “People are hungry for this,” she says.