Instead of the ER: Paramedics Making House Calls to Chronic Patients
Individuals with chronic illnesses or those that are uninsured typically utilize the emergency room for primary medical care, yet this only leads to multiple, highly costly visits. Within the past year, it has been estimated that one in five Americans visited the emergency room for a total of 130 million visits, with costs ranging alarmingly from an average $750 to tens of thousands of dollars. Individuals with conditions such as asthma or diabetes with absence of regular monitoring can land themselves in the emergency room multiple times simply within a month, adding up to staggering costs over just a year. With readmissions contributing shocking prices, Minnesota’s North Memorial Health Care system has implemented a new program where paramedics are sent to the sickest patients within the area. The trained paramedics have made over one thousand visits since last October, particularly to patients who were recorded to have visited the ER nine or more times within a year. With house calls, the paramedics are able to provide more personalized care without the rush needed in the emergency room, truly understanding what the patient needs and communicating with the patient how they can better regulate their condition. In addition, the paramedic can assess how well the patient is actually working to control their conditions by observing home surroundings. Controlling chronic conditions in outpatient settings and helping the patient to stay on top of their illness decreases the chance that an ER visit or extended hospital stay is required. Overall, this contributes to an enhancement of patient care and the decrease in costs required, allowing the patient to really learn how to have a control of their health.
Article provided by NBC News with Contributor Linda Carroll. 1 Dec. 2013