Reducing Falls and Calls: How Customized Software is Improving Collaboration Among First Responders
UPPER ARLINGTON, OH, Ohio passed legislation that expanded care beyond 911 calls, allowing community paramedics to be among the first responders who could visit patients in their homes to provide care outside of 911 calls. This enabled community paramedics to become part of a care team, alongside a patient’s physician or case manager.
The Upper Arlington Fire Division’s Community Assistance, Referrals and Education Services (CARES) started in 2017 in Upper Arlington, Ohio. UA CARES consists of a team of firefighter paramedics, a program manager, and an EMS and Training Captain. As repeat 911 calls for falls continue to increase around the nation, UA CARES focuses on improvements to better identify residents at-risk for falls and provide necessary home modifications and resources. UA CARES works to go beyond standard emergency medical services delivery by focusing on prevention: making patients safe in their homes and reducing expensive emergency room visits and rehospitalizations.
However, as the UA CARES program grew, intake processes and file management were still too cumbersome. “We used to start out with clipboard and about 30 pieces of paper,” said Mindy Gabriel, a firefighter and paramedic with Upper Arlington CARES. “Intakes could take one to two hours depending on how much the patient wanted to tell us or what the situation was inside the home. Then we manually scanned all this paperwork or had to email several people on a care team to keep everyone updated on how a patient was doing”.
At the beginning of 2019, the Upper Arlington CARES program went digital. HealthCall worked with paramedics to configure and customize their own care plans, assessments, and outreach around their administrative and clinical processes. Once a patient is entered into the CARES program and is deemed a “falls risk,” HealthCall enables a process of management-by-exception, allowing paramedics to have best practices on-hand, have patient’s vital information and medical history quickly available in real-time, and know who to call to ensure more timely and targeted care. “HealthCall is a game-changer that allows us to prevent more and react less”, said Mindy.
HealthCall has not only helped reduce time spent on documentation, it has also helped increase the number of referrals medics make directly to UA CARES. When selecting interventions on the ePCR, or electronic Patient Care Report, medics can immediately notify UA CARES when a patient follow up is needed. “HealthCall was integral in connecting two systems to work together”, said Lieutenant Mark Weade. “The improved work flow allows more time to be spent directly with patients”. Preliminary data shows the Upper Arlington CARES program has experienced a 5% decrease in fall related calls and a 41% decrease in fall related transports. The numbers reflect a broader time frame prior to HealthCall implementation, but represents a positive outcome in the efforts toward fall-prevention.
Bi-directional communication is important to the UA CARES team and it is vital when trying to be an agent of change in inpatient care. Most often, patients are the ones that need to self-report to their care team when they’ve had a fall or 911 call. A high percentage of 911 calls and falls go unreported. HealthCall can change that paradigm. UA CARES firefighter and paramedic, David Wisner, says “HealthCall is a system that will allow us to provide critical information to first-responders and incorporate the patient’s healthcare team for further follow-up and collaboration”.
Home safety for patients is a major factor. Thanks to HealthCall, firefighter/paramedics now have centralized, immediate, actionable data on-hand, such as which bedroom to go to assist a child who wears cochlear implants and can’t hear a fire alarm. Or when they are visiting a patient at risk for a fall, does this patient have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, do these detectors need new batteries, or could these detectors be better placed in the home? Or does the patient need grab bars installed to reduce the risk of a fall?
“HealthCall has exceeded our expectation and improved our program all-around”, said Upper Arlington CARES Program Manager and Service Coordinator Christine Leyshon. “Streamlining care leads to better care coordination which leads to improved patient safety which leads to the likelihood of keeping patients safe in their homes and out of the hospital.”
Fellow firefighter and paramedic Jason Cable adds that HealthCall’s software capabilities have added a layer of accountability to first responders. “Everything is linked up, as we become responsible for this patient data we’re generating from these visits, how the information is shared, and how the information needs to move. We’re not creating a bunch of phone calls or emails anymore where things might fall through the cracks. And the silos are gone. We get to offer more comprehensive care.”
The UA CARES team agrees, “as we expand our program and set goals, HealthCall is there for us every step of the way. They truly care about service delivery and its impact on patients. HealthCall also goes beyond customer service and links their clients with other innovative programs across the country”.
The Upper Arlington Fire Division advances its core mission of helping Upper Arlington residents lead safe and healthy lives through a unique program called Community Assistance Referrals and Education Services, or CARES. CARES focuses on education, injury prevention, and building community partnerships to help improve residents’ lives. CARES is a paramedicine program that provides community-based healthcare, with community paramedics functioning outside their customary emergency response roles to educate and assist residents in health care issues, and developing useful collaborations with area providers. To learn more about UA CARES click here, or visit https://upperarlingtonoh.gov/fire-division/
With the most programs nationwide, HealthCall, LLC is the leading provider of post-hospital care cloud-based solutions for community paramedicine and mobile integrated health. The company’s patented system and method are proven to provide superior clinical and financial outcomes in 911 utilization, readmission reduction, chronic care, treat-on-scene, and mental health. To find out why the most diversified, innovative, and successful programs choose HealthCall, visit www.HealthCall.com.
Sara Bruner, HealthCall – (219) 476-3462; email@example.com
Christine Leyshon, Fire Division, The City of Upper Arlington firstname.lastname@example.org