My last blog focused on the steps that South Shore Health System is taking to transform how we provide care in our community. As an independent community health system, it’s our responsibility to innovate and grow to ensure our patients have access to the right resources, at the right times, and in the right places. We have to consistently rethink our approach to what will help South Shore residents, including making healthcare as accessible and cost-effective as possible.
As part of our ongoing transformation, in less than a week our Health System will begin providing emergency medical services to the Town of Weymouth. To say that we are excited about what this means for the health of our patients and families is an understatement.
This partnership, which officially begins on July 1, enables us to continue to deliver integrated care in meaningful ways that meet the growing needs of the communities we serve. By extending our services out into our hometown, and with forthcoming new state regulations, we’ll have the flexibility to provide emergency services in the environment that is most appropriate to the patient’s needs – whether it be in an emergency room, urgent care center, or even care in the home. This approach will help lower the cost of emergency medicine, increase accessibility to care, and reduce the strain on our emergency department, which too often is bursting at the seams.
Up until now, our patients really only had two options after calling 911: refuse care or be transported by ambulance to the ER. That’s an antiquated model. It also isn’t reflective of the options that are available for urgent medical treatment, particularly given the advancements in technology. And it isn’t consistent with the Health System’s mission of providing customizable care in settings that are convenient and close to home.
With mobile integrated health regulations, we can pilot moving away from the “one destination fits all” ambulance service, and we’ll be able to more appropriately bring care to a patient, rather than always bringing the patient to the ER – which is not nearly as effective or affordable, for the patient and their family.
In fact, nearly 50 percent of all ER visits are actually not emergencies at all. This is precisely why we have to transform the way that we provide care to patients – especially those who are not experiencing severe trauma or life-threatening illnesses.
A person experiencing complications related to the flu, for example, likely doesn’t need the same level of care as someone who is injured in car accident. As a result of our partnership with the Town of Weymouth and others that we have established within the community (Health Express being one), our EMTs and paramedics will have the opportunity to provide care – or transportation to alternative settings for care – at a much lower cost than an emergency room visit. Our ultimate goal is to provide Mobile Integrated Health using patient-centered mobile resources in out-of-hospital environments, reserving the ER for the most serious of situations.
Through new technology and updated infrastructure, our team will be able to assess the patient’s condition and make decisions in conjunction with the patient and the patient’s family that are best suited to meet their short- and long-term medical needs.
Speaking of our team, over the course of the last six months we have assembled a phenomenal group of professionals to help support our enhanced 911 services.
Since being awarded the emergency ambulance service contract in December 2017, we’ve almost doubled our emergency medical services personnel, adding 60 new employees and four dispatchers to support our existing team of 70. Altogether, our EMTs have on average 10 years of experience and our paramedics have an average of 16 years of experience on the job. We’ve also added four state-of-the-art ambulances to our fleet of 10 ambulances, including two 24/7 advanced life support vehicles and two basic life support vehicles, one of which will be available 24/7 and the other 16/7. In the process, we’ve strengthened our good relationships with Weymouth Fire and Weymouth Police.
Beginning July 1, we’ll be ready to meet our patients and families where they need us the most – in the community and close to home. After all, delivering integrated care directly to the communities we serve is the future of healthcare for better patient outcomes.
And that’s exactly what our community Health System is here to do.