Starting next year, area hospitals will partner with paramedic services to change the way patients get care after getting discharged. Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports the move is one way health care providers are dealing with changes from the Affordable Care Act:
If a patient is treated for conditions like congestive heart failure or diabetes, hospitals can get cost reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare. But National Health Care Reform rules won’t pay hospitals for treatment if a patient is re-admitted for the same condition within 30 days.
OSF HealthCare and UnityPoint Health Methodist/Proctor are partnering with area paramedics to follow up with patients and make sure they’re are up-to-date on medications and recovery. Debbie Trau is Director of Emergency Services for OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. She says the goal is to have people spend less time in the hospital and improve care, while saving money:
“We need to utilize the tools and technology we have to bring care to the patients where they are. So sometimes that’s right in their home, and using our partners in our community, such as the paramedics, to deliver that care. They have a great skillset and we need to utilize them in wellness as well as in sickness.”
Trau says the six-month pilot period (called Phase One), will specifically focus on East Peoria, as well as Peoria’s South Side, East Bluff in the 61603 and 16105 zip codes, where there’s limited healthcare access.
The hospitals will also pay Advanced Medical Transport and the East Peoria Fire Departments per visit to the homes of discharged patients. UnityPoint already started this payment method with AMT at their Quad Cities affiliate – UnityPoint Health – Trinity.
In East Peoria, the focus will be on following up with discharged patients suffering from diabetes or congestive heart failure starting January 1st for a six month period. Assistant East Peoria Fire Chief Ryan Beck says discharged patients can relate to local paramedics making a house call:
“When they call 911, we’re the personnel that show up. And so being there in the non-emergent capacity, it’s comforting in some way to them that they know they’re getting us in both instances.”
Beck says the medics will give the discharged patient a physical assessment, a working scale and double check all medications are being taken. He says the ultimate goal will be to have dedicated EMS personnel within the fire department to tackle the home visit, which would mean more staff to respond to emergency calls.