NAMIHP is excited about the work our organization is doing to promote mobile integrated health (MIH) and share how these services can transform healthcare delivery. This year we launched the first annual MIH Week.
The governor of South Carolina officially recognized October 8-14, 2023 as Mobile Integrated Healthcare Professionals Week in a proclamation that highlighted the work MIH teams do in the state.
MIH supports the health industry, reducing costs, improving outcomes, and improving patient satisfaction. During MIH week, we looked closer at specific areas of impact for these teams.
Social determinants of health and health disparities
About 80% to 90% of modifiable health outcomes are affected by social factors. The close connection MIH teams have to their patients and communities gives them unique insights. MIH teams can recognize health-related social needs and connect patients with resources.
Documentation is also a key factor in addressing SDoH across the country. Teams can document their findings according to the CMS Framework for Health Equity and support growing efforts to streamline data collection.
Home safety and falls prevention
Falls are a serious health hazard, particularly for the elderly, leading to millions of ED visits every year. MIH teams have insights into patient homes that providers don’t have in the office. They’re in a unique position to address home safety concerns.
Paramedics and EMTs are experts at scene safety and risk assessment. For falls prevention this means conducting a fall risk assessment, looking for high-risk medications, screening for conditions that increase the risk of falls, and educating patients.
Chronic disease and medication management
Helping patients manage chronic diseases and adhere to medications helps improve outcomes and reduce hospitalizations. We’re seeing this in action at MIH programs across the country. COPD, diabetes, and congestive heart failure provide opportunities to realize the benefits of MIH disease management.
Teams perform disease assessments, education, and acute disease triage in homes. When it comes to medication, MIH teams can fill pillboxes, identify medication issues that increase the risk of hospitalization, and dispose of expired or discontinued medications.
Behavioral and mental health
With increasing need and a shortage of providers, serving patients with behavioral and mental health issues is a challenge across the healthcare industry. In fact, 164 million Americans live in an area with a shortage of mental health professionals.
MIH teams can screen for mental health issues, such as depression, suicidal thoughts, dementia, and substance use disorders. They can then connect people with appropriate resources to avoid ED visits.
Acute care at home
More patients and health systems want in-home care. MIH teams can provide acute care at home for chronic diseases, mobile urgent care, and hospital-at-home programs.
MIH teams provide acute care at home under the direction of a physician, acting as an extension of the health system. As hospital-at-home and other acute care models of MIH grow, success often correlates to key elements. Programs need to ensure internet connectivity, set outlines for how geographic location will impact delivery of care, and set clear patient criteria for being seen at home.
Addiction and substance use disorders
MIH/community paramedic teams provide lifesaving intervention for those with addiction, and are an underutilized resource for the millions of people struggling with substance use disorders. We continue to see the effects of the opioid epidemic, including fentanyl and other drugs wreaking havoc on our communities. This is a growing area for MIH, with many states implementing robust substance use programs.
MIH teams can help with community education, Narcan distribution, needle exchange, opioid withdrawal symptom management, medication-assisted therapy, and much more.
Team approach and interprofessional care
MIH teams feature providers of various backgrounds working together to provide patient-centered care. No silos here. Community paramedics and EMTs are the foundation of many teams, but they have the support of physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, specialists, and more.
Communication and clearly defined roles and responsibilities are key to coordination across all roles.
Through mobile integrated health, together we can tackle the challenges we face in our communities. Whether your priority is cost-savings, improving access to care, or focusing on health equity initiatives, MIH can be your strategy for care delivery.
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