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Spotlight on Innovation: Longmont Community Health Network

Longmont Community Health Network is a collaborative comprised of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), clinics, hospitals and other medical providers in the Longmont area focused in part on ensuring patients get access to the most appropriate care setting by integrating existing public safety resources into the overall health care system. The Network plans to partner providers with and empower Public Safety Paramedics to triage patients to determine the right location for treatment. Integrating EMS more fully in the community will provide high quality care while simultaneously reducing health care costs by ensuring patients receive the right care at the right time at the right location.

Mike Butler, Longmont’s Public Safety Chief, described the impetus for developing the program. “Although several thousand people are transported to the Emergency Room each year in Longmont, many patients could be more effectively treated, both from a cost and quality standpoint, at local clinics or other health care settings. Our EMS personnel have the training to assess and monitor patients and through partnership with the provider community, they can ensure patients receive appropriate, timely, and high quality care.”

Currently, EMS’s primary role is to take patients to the ER regardless of whether their health status warranted that level of care, resulting in high cost of care and often long wait times for patients. Under the new program design, EMS will assist with managing “super users” of the health care system to change behavior patterns and establish different patient expectations. “Similar to most communities, we have ‘frequent flier’ patients who have learned that by calling 9-1-1 they can get ride to the hospital and be seen in the ER, even when we know their condition is not life-threatening and does not require immediate attention,” said Butler. Through the new program, EMS will work with provider groups to link patients to the care they need and find alternative options, rather than relying on the ER for non-emergent needs.

The Network also plans to focus on ensuring patients stay healthy and have access to important primary care services. To improve overall population health, EMS will be engaged both prior to and after patients receive emergency medical treatment. Network proactive service strategies include creating medical homes for vulnerable populations (uninsured, special needs, etc.), creating access to health clinics in fire stations and other settings; providing post-ER and hospitalization home visits, and developing an information network of medical services within Longmont. These proactive services will utilize fire department and paramedic personnel as community workers who can provide medical services outside of an ER setting and help patients effectively identify and utilize the full range of medical and social services available to them. The Network plans to combine paramedics with nurses and social workers to create care coordination teams modeled after the Camden Coalition care management teams that target complex cases that result in over 50 percent of the overall health care costs in the community.

In addition, the Network also plans to provide extensive outreach and education with the goal of equipping patients and caregivers with the information and skills necessary to manage their health and the complex health care system. “By providing support and education to community members, they will likely become more savvy consumers of the system and will be able to better understand their options and determine the most appropriate level of care for their condition(s),” stated Butler. To support providing public access to information, the Network also seeks to create a clearinghouse of information and resources that will be available to community members.

For more information about Longmont Community Health Network, contact City of Longmont Emergency Manager, Dan Eamon, at 303-651-8433 or dan.eamon@ci.longmont.co.us.
 

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