Are House Calls Key to Future of EMS?

Paramedicine represents new revenue source

The role of EMS has traditionally been pretty straightforward: respond to emergencies, stop the bleeding, convey to the nearest hospital. But over the past few years that paradigm has evolved as ambulance companies have begun to make inroads into the business of home health care.

An article on bostonglobe.com reports how EasCare, a Massachusetts ambulance company, is just one of many companies nationwide that are redefining the paramedic’s role to include home-based treatment and prevention. Under a pilot program set to launch this summer, paramedics would treat patients with infections, minor wounds, injuries from falls, and problems associated with chronic diseases like diabetes and congestive heart failure.

“We really do believe this is the house call of the future,” said EasCare CEO George Gilpin.

As the government and insurers implement policies to discourage visits to the emergency room, home care could represent an important new revenue stream for ambulance companies trying to offset the loss of business. American Medical Response of Greenwood Village, CO, the largest ambulance company in the U.S., has been using paramedics to provide home care since 2010, according to the Globe. It runs programs in more than a dozen cities and has plans to expand into Massachusetts.

The service model varies. EasCare paramedics will rely on referrals from its partner, Commonwealth Care Alliance, which answers patient calls at night. The paramedics will travel in SUVs carrying medications and equipment not found in a regular ambulance, like a blood-testing kit, and will have access to electronic medical records. A regular doctor would be consulted before a plan of care began.

“This really changes the whole way EMS is going to approach patients,” said Greg Davis, project manager at EasCare. “Sometimes we wondered if we really needed to take them to the hospital. Is there something we could have done for them in their home? This will give us that opportunity.”

bostonglobe.com