Nobody wants to be readmitted to the hospital after being discharged. Not only does it mean a patient is unwell, but it is expensive both for patients and the entire health care system.
To help reduce hospital readmissions for patients at high risk of being readmitted, PMH Medical Center in Prosser launched a program that sends its ambulance service to patients’ homes to follow-up and address any issues patients have dealt with, spanning anything from surgery recovery to diabetes management. The program grew out of a $1.4 million grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and after six months of planning, the program took off.
Now, four years later, the hospital has seen its readmission rates fall to just 3 among those in the program. This is thanks to both patient education as well as early detection of complications. Paramedics arrive two-to-three days after a patient is discharged, coming in an SUV equipped with all the medical equipment they need. If a patient is facing an urgent issue, paramedics will call their primary care provider for assistance. Often this means an appointment that same day.
There is no extra expense to the patient or insurance companies for a home paramedic visit, and each visit saves an average of $600 in medical charges from a readmission. The goal is not just to offer medical assistance to patients when it is needed and avoid a trip to the hospital, but to connect patients with resources and practitioners in the area to maximize their health and well-being. The program also brings the hospital’s ambulance service closer to the community, which leads to better care and more therapeutic relationships.
The shift in strategy toward wellness and prevention is constantly growing throughout our entire health care system, among both large health care systems and small community hospitals. Rural hospitals play an especially large role in the health of their communities, making this shift of even greater importance, as it can help keep entire communities on paths of health and wellness.