The Reno (Nev.) based Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) was awarded a $9.9 million Health Care Innovation Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
REMSA, in partnership with Renown Medical Home, Renown Regional Medical Center, Northern Nevada Medical Center, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, the University of Nevada-Reno School of Community Health Sciences, the Washoe County Health District, and the State of Nevada Office of EMS, is receiving the award to create a new program that specifically responds to lower acuity and chronic disease conditions in urban, suburban and rural areas of Washoe County.
The program is designed to improve patients’ healthcare experience while reducing unnecessary ambulance responses, and hospital admissions and readmissions. During the three-year period, the program will create an estimated 22 new jobs and save $10.5 million in healthcare costs. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services will administer the award.
Improved and timely primary care access will reduce the likelihood that simple medical problems will deteriorate into serious or life-threatening emergencies. The REMSA program has three elements. The first involves an alternate pathway for individuals to access, via telephone, healthcare services for non-emergency conditions though REMSA’s accredited medical communications center. Patients with a lower acuity problem can talk to a nurse experienced in emergency medical triage and response.
The second element of the program is initiated after the call is triaged as appropriate for alternative pathways of care provided by a new level of advanced community paramedics. A specially trained REMSA medic will respond to those patients with minor medical problems on-scene, and refer or transport them to an appropriate medical facility at a lower cost than the emergency department (ED). Alternate facilities can include urgent care centers, physician offices and mental health facilities.
The third element has REMSA advanced community paramedics engaged in working with the community’s medical facilities and Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) initiatives to provide follow-up monitoring for patients recently released from the hospital to reduce post-discharge complications and costly readmissions. Program paramedics will also help with community health surveillance, education, home safety and injury prevention.
“This is the crux of how healthcare can be improved and savings can be realized here and eventually across the United States,” said Patrick Smith, president of REMSA. “New innovative healthcare approaches are essential to meet the changing and growing demand for service while reducing costs.”