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How CEOs Are Engaging EMS to Help Reduce Costs

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, September 21, 2011

"The program is about utilizing paramedics in an expanded role in the community," Montera said. "It's not paramedics going out and doing suturing or writing prescriptions…it's utilizing paramedics within their scope of practice," and letting them "be the eyes and the ears of the physician in the home."

For Robinson, EMS represents an "untapped area of healthcare" that can help hospitals, providers, and communities reduce costs and keep patients healthier by following up in the home, preventing complications, and reducing readmissions.

"EMS is part of healthcare but not really," she said. "I don't think that healthcare in general has embraced or understands what EMS professionals can bring to the table."

Because of this lack of understanding, Robinson and Montera said they've been working to educate and get buy-in from hospital executives, because their enthusiasm will have a ripple effect on stakeholders throughout their organization.

"Our hospital CEOs understood that they needed to engage the EMS community in a different way than they ever had before," Montera said. "I think that they're really onboard with the concept and have really embraced the program."

In addition to education, Montera and Robinson are also asking hospital CEOs what they wanted the pilot to achieve.

"One thing that they wanted to measure was the number of times a patient was impacting or contacting the system," Robinson said. For example, how often was a patient in the urgent care, in the ED, or hospitalized during a given amount of time and did engaging with community paramedics change that?

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