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The Journal Gazette

  • EJ Claflin, executive director, Putnam County Operation Life

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 12:40 am


EJ Claflin

In 1966, on the heels of landmark Medicare/Medicaid legislation, modern emergency medical services were born as part of a federal initiative. From this genesis, EMS was created and funded as an emergency transportation system for those in the throes of medical emergencies and traumatic injuries. 

Today, EMS remains the last discipline across the spectrum of health care still being paid solely for transporting an individual instead of the life-saving therapies EMS provides as an extension of the hospital emergency room. 

Changes brought about a full five years ago in our health care finance system, initiated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, have created a window of unprecedented opportunity for EMS to make the transition from a transportation service to an indispensable partner in delivering both emergency and primary care services. 

Mobile Integrated Healthcare taps the vast pool of licensed EMS professionals across Indiana, enhancing existing health care systems or resources already in place without duplicating or replacing them. MIH also fills resource gaps in the community and vastly improves access to primary care. 

Affordable Care Act financial incentives have shifted focus to the value of EMS in providing "patient navigation" through the health care system. As gatekeepers of sorts, experienced Mobile Integrated Healthcare paramedics use vast bodies of field experience paired with advanced training to triage patients towards the three "Rs": providing the right care, in the right setting at the right time. 

Mobile Integrated Healthcare focuses on the provision of health care using patient-centered, mobile resources in the out-of-hospital environment. Mobile Integrated Healthcare intelligently and judiciously applies services such as providing telephone advice to 911 callers with non-urgent medical complaints, providing routine wellness checks, assisting in chronic disease management, participating in coordinated preventive care (including prenatal) or post-hospital discharge follow-up visits. Additionally, utilizing Mobile Integrated Healthcare allows paramedics to determine a more appropriate patient care destination – including referral to a broad spectrum of care specialties instead of being limited to hospital emergency departments.

Mobile Integrated Healthcare is overseen by engaged physicians and other practitioners, as well as a patient’s primary care physician. Mobile Integrated Healthcare has pioneered the use of telemedicine technology when appropriate, nurturing a necessary "face-to-face" dynamic team approach in delivering health care services. The use of EMS professionals to provide coordinated, sustained and consistent Mobile Integrated Healthcare across Indiana, and the United States, will pay dividends in the short and long term. Paralleling the main goals of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Mobile Integrated Healthcare assists in meeting a demonstrated need by improving the experience of care for the patient, improving overall population health and reducing health care expenses.

Medicare sparked a change in the way medicine was delivered to those most at risk at a crucial point in American history. With the passage and near total implementation of the Affordable Care Act, isn’t it time for Hoosiers to take a page from that same history book and write a new chapter for EMS to fulfill, this time in the role of Mobile Integrated Healthcare practitioners?