The Alton Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team is aiming to reduce hospital readmissions by instituting the Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) Community Paramedic Program.
The MIH program – the only such hospital-based EMS program in this part of the state -- is completely free of charge to patients, and is referral-based by providers to ensure that only chronically ill, high-risk patients are enrolled. The program aims to bring quality care directly to the patient by providing care in the patient’s home, as opposed to the patient traveling to a health care setting.
“The MIH program gives the EMS department the ability to assist patients in a greater capacity with their day-to-day health needs, while also building mutual relationships of trust and security,” said Jason Bowman, manager of AMH EMS. “Our paramedics are honored to be able to serve the community and provide additional resources to promote a healthier lifestyle.”
The goals of the MIH program are to prevent hospital readmissions, reduce unnecessary Emergency Department utilization, and enable patients to better manage their own health. This is done by:
- Providing disease management education to patients and their caregivers;
- Conducting home environment assessments to mitigate any risks that might be present;
- Making referrals to any community resources or social programs that could help the patient be more successful in managing their overall health and well-being.
“I’m so proud of our team in stepping up to expand our outstanding care to the post-hospitalization setting to help reduce readmissions,” said Brad Goacher, vice president and Chief Operating Officer of Alton Memorial Hospital. “The MIH program will make a real difference in the health care provided in the Riverbend area.”
The MIH program is run by AMH EMS and is enrolling five patients each month. Once enrolled, specially trained MIH paramedics will follow the patients for a period of 30 days, conducting home visits three times a week on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. There is a possibility of re-enrollment for the patient after the first month.
“The goal is to teach people to better manage their health and give them the tools they need to be successful to avoid hospitalization,” said Kaitlin Lodes, a Performance Improvement consultant at AMH who helped develop the program. “So while a patient could certainly be re-enrolled, the goal would be to not have patients who are perpetually in the program.”
During the visits, the MIH paramedics will be completing disease-specific assessments and communicating them directly to the patients’ referring provider. The paramedics will also be documenting all of their findings in Epic so that the patient’s current and future care team will have access to the assessment notes.
“The MIH program will be an extension of the resources of our hospital to our patients with the most need of ongoing monitoring and care in their homes,” said Dr. Angela Holbrook, medical director of the ED at Alton Memorial. “This implementation speaks to Alton Memorial’s commitment to progressive health care. Congratulations to Jason, Kaitlin, Brad, and all Alton Memorial EMS staff on the initiation of this great program.”
In an effort to reduce heart failure readmissions, the AMH MIH Program is currently working directly with St. Louis Cardiology to target the patients that will derive the greatest benefit from this program’s services.
“The mission of Alton Memorial Hospital is to improve the health of the people and communities we serve, and in this sense, the MIH program is a win for both the hospital and the community,” said Lodes. “The MIH program completely redesigns the traditional care model, shifting from the hospital-focused model to a focus on individualized, patient-centric care. There is a focus on treating the whole patient, not just one symptom the patient is having. To truly be successful in helping someone manage their care, it is important to not limit the focus to the physical factors impacting the patient, but the mental and social factors as well.”
Pictured above: Shanena Brooks of the Alton Memorial Hospital EMS service is in the cab ready to go out on a Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) call during the first week of the program at AMH. Standing outside the ambulance are, left to right, AMH Vice President/COO Brad Goacher, EMS manager Jason Bowman and Kaitlin Lodes of Performance Improvement.