By Daniel Frey
One of the hallmarks of community paramedicine is that patient care starts—and in many cases, stays—in the home. By delivering treatment through in-home health services, patients receive streamlined treatment when they need it at a fraction of the cost. In addition, in-home care reduces demands on local healthcare systems.
Six benefits of community paramedicine in-home health services
In-home health services through community paramedicine provide these benefits to patients, their families, and the healthcare system:
- Reduced hospital admissions
- Decreased emergency room (ER) readmissions
- Lower treatment costs
- Limited patient exposure
- Check-ins on demand
- Peace of mind for families
Reduced ER admissions
ERs are intended for true medical emergencies. However, many patients admitted to the ER aren’t experiencing a medical emergency. In fact, only about one-third of all ER admissions are for actual emergencies.
When patients with non-life-threatening conditions are treated at home, emergency departments, their staff, and resources remain available to those who need help the most. Additionally, 911 operators and ambulance services are freed up to respond to actual emergencies.
Decreased ER readmissions
After being discharged from a hospital, patients are most vulnerable in their first few weeks of recuperation and may need additional care. In-home health services during this time relegate ER visits to being a last resort.
In the event that a patient needs medical attention, whether it be for managing chronic pain or figuring out unfamiliar symptoms, care happens in the home first by qualified medical professionals. Medical evaluations and treatment are delivered through either an in-home visit or telehealth. It’s only in the event of a true emergency that a patient is taken out of the home for immediate medical intervention.
Lower treatment costs
On-site treatments and visits are expensive. The average price of an ER visit is nearly $1,400. Likewise, inpatient care at a hospital can cost thousands of dollars. In addition, many ambulance services charge patients by the mile, meaning the farther away a patient is from a hospital, the more it costs.
Home healthcare is considerably less expensive: averaging 52% less than the cost of treatment at a hospital. One community paramedicine program reported patients saved thousands on their medical treatment through in-home health services.
Limited patient exposure
Visits to the doctor’s office and ER often put patients in close proximity to others. Particularly for the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, exposure to others is risky and can lead to further medical complications, such as infections.
By delivering healthcare services in a patient’s home, the risk of exposure to disease and infection is drastically reduced, if not completely eliminated. Rather than interact with a team of doctors and nurses who may have dealt with dozens of contagious people, a patient receives in-person treatment from a limited number of medical professionals. Telehealth medicine, where appropriate, takes physical contact between a patient and a caregiver out of the equation altogether.
Check-ins on demand
Accessing medical services outside the home can be challenging. In rural communities, medical facilities are often long distances away and specialty care providers are in short supply. In urban areas, scheduling appointments is difficult as the demand for medical services is higher in places with larger populations.
Through home health services and telehealth, care is delivered on a schedule or when a patient needs it the most. Instead of waiting weeks for an appointment with a primary care physician, a patient quickly receives a routine screening or has a follow-up visit with a healthcare provider.
During these patient interactions, healthcare professionals can also evaluate other factors that affect a patient’s overall health, such as:
- Medication management
- Diet and nutrition
- Mental health
Medical professionals can also track a patient’s progress or overall health and develop custom care plans to directly address a patient’s needs.
Peace of mind for families
For family members living far away from a loved one, community medicine in-home health services give peace of mind that quality care is being provided. There’s no question that a qualified medical professional is regularly checking up on a loved one, evaluating their overall health, and responding to immediate needs. With remote patient monitoring, even patients in rural or isolated areas still have access to medical care.
Paramedics and other healthcare professionals can also play an active role in empowering patients to take the lead in managing their own health, whether it’s by following a doctor’s orders or taking medications as prescribed.
In-home health services improve healthcare delivery
Community paramedicine’s approach to improving healthcare delivery is changing the face of medical care. Through in-home health services, patients, their families, and healthcare providers all benefit from improved health outcomes.
Daniel Frey is vice president of business development and co-founder of FieldMed.