MIH at One Year Plays Pivotal Role Throughout COVID-19 Pandemic
It has been one year since South Shore Health launched its Mobile Integrated Health program, and its success to date is evident. The team has made tremendous strides in improving access to critical, patient-centered healthcare by servicing over 2,000 individuals in their South Shore homes or other community settings since last March. It has accomplished this while pivoting to respond to the unanticipated needs and gaps in care related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The MIH program leverages the power of the entire health system including primary care, cardiovascular care, urgent care and behavioral health care to provide a safety net for patients with chronic health issues,” said Allen L. Smith, MD, MS, President & CEO of South Shore Health.
“This highly successful team has become an integral part of our health system’s response to caring for our most vulnerable patients all while battling against the COVID-19 virus,” Dr. Smith said.
“A key focus of pre-pandemic health system operations was to improve system capacity and contain costs," said Kelly Lannutti, DO, Program Development and Clinical Innovation Physician, Population Health. “The MIH program combines basic telehealth technology and a strong partnership with South Shore Health’s Home Care Division and other home health services, proving that cost-containing, innovative practices don’t always require high-tech solutions.”
Through MIH, patients with limited access to care, chronic health needs, or those who are at high risk for readmission or excessive use of the emergency department, are identified by their primary care and emergency department providers. EMS professionals then respond using evidence-based protocols combined with active medical control to provide immediate care in the home or through telehealth visits. MIH operations has conducted over 3,500 telehealth provider visits in just one year of service.
During the spring of 2020, only weeks after the launch of the MIH program, the spread of the COVID-19 virus accelerated on the South Shore. Some patients became unwilling or unable to seek care in the hospital. Primary care clinics closed, elective surgeries were cancelled and nursing facilities became overrun and overburdened while experiencing staffing shortages.
“As a hospital based EMS service, integrated with the health organization’s electronic health records system and known to providers and clinics, the MIH team quickly became essential to keeping patients safe at home, while helping to maintain patient flow and reduce hospital admissions,” said William Tollefsen, MD, MD., M.Sc., MBA, FAEMS, Vice Chair of Emergency Medicine and Urgent Care.
The MIH team has also played a significant role in the health system’s recent efforts to provide vaccinations to the communities it serves. The group has vaccinated nearly 780 first responders and homebound patients, and has treated over 300 COVID-19 positive patients. It was also instrumental in planning, implementing and servicing the Town of Weymouth’s highly successful COVID-19 testing site.
“After just one year of service, through an unprecedented time in healthcare, South Shore Hospital’s MIH team has made thousands of in-person patient visits, stood up a robust telehealth program and intercepted hundreds of visits to our Emergency Department, all while supporting our community with the distribution of vaccinations and testing and treating for COVID-19,” Eugene Duffy, Director, Emergency Medical Services and Mobile Integrated Health said.
“I am extremely proud of this team," said Duffy.
South Shore Health’s MIH program is supported in part by a $10m dollar gift that was announced in February of 2018, funding the Grayken Treatment Center at South Shore Health. There are no cost restrictions to this program based on a patient’s insurance or socio-economic status.