Mobile Integrated Health: Bringing the Hospital into the Home

One of the highlights of my day is when South Shore Health’s emergency medicine team gathers for our morning huddle. Providers, paramedics, EMTs, dispatchers, and nurses all discuss solutions to challenges we see in the community and find new ways to provide the best care to patients.

Since South Shore Health became the EMS provider for the Town of Weymouth in 2018, I’ve seen that meeting evolve as our relationship with first responders from the Weymouth Police Department and the Weymouth Fire Department grows. I can see the already deep roots South Shore Health has in the community grow stronger as we identify trends that impact the health of our friends and neighbors, and work with our partners in public safety to develop innovative solutions to keep our communities healthy and safe.

One theme we kept coming back to in our daily meeting was the variety of calls we respond to in Weymouth. Many of these are what most people think of as an ambulance call; an ambulance shows up to a life-threatening emergency that requires a transport to South Shore Hospital for immediate medical care, lights flashing and sirens wailing.

But the calls that don’t require the lights and sirens are just as important. We often see patients who are struggling with chronic health issues that need specialized medical attention—but not necessarily within the walls of the hospital or a doctor’s office.

For example, there may be a patient with a chronic wound that needs treatment, but the patient has mobility challenges that make it hard for them to get to the Center for Wound Healing on their own. This means an ambulance picks the patient up at home and brings them back after the appointment, all for a visit that could easily be done in the comfort of the patient’s own home—with the right tools in place.

This traditional model of care creates a huge disruption in the lives of our patients and their families. Additionally, advancements in technology have opened up new, more efficient ways to deliver care. This is why the state of Massachusetts has approved South Shore Health to implement a Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) program.

Mobile Integrated Health brings care into the community through a personalized, high-touch, high-tech program that combines modern technology with the time-honored tradition of clinicians providing healthcare within the patient’s home.

Think of MIH like a doctor’s visit in an old-time movie, when the caregiver comes in with a black bag and sits at the patient’s bedside. But imagine that the state-of-the-art technology that’s present within the walls of the hospital can come out of the bag if needed—and that an experienced specialist can be consulted at a moment’s notice.

South Shore Health is proud to roll out Massachusetts’ first hospital-based MIH program in Weymouth.

Here’s how South Shore Health’s MIH program works:

  • Our team identifies a Weymouth resident that could benefit from care given within the home.
  • These patients have a chronic illness—such as Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or a complex wound—that can result in frequent trips to the hospital.
  • When the patient needs care, one of our specially trained paramedics will visit these patients in their home. The paramedic will treat the patient based on the care plan developed by his or her providers. If needed, the paramedic can connect the patient to the appropriate doctor via telehealth technology.
  • If a patient needs more advanced treatment than we can provide in the home, they will be transported to the appropriate setting—either the hospital, a primary or specialty care office, or perhaps even an urgent care, depending on the patient’s need.
  • This team will also engage with patients in the community who may have chronic behavioral health issues, such as anxiety or depression, and will refer these patients to our partner, Aspire Health Alliance, if a patient is in crisis or needs outpatient behavioral health treatment.

We are leveraging the power of our community health system to provide a safety net for patients who can benefit from integrated, comprehensive care at home. While our MIH program will begin with about 100 patients in Weymouth, we hope to expand the program into other communities and patient populations as we grow. I’m grateful to the team that has worked tirelessly to put this program together and can’t wait for the community to get to know this dedicated team of paramedics.

It’s important to say that Mobile Integrated Health is an expansion of South Shore Health’s EMS program. Our paramedics and the South Shore Hospital Emergency Department is always there for patients who need emergency care.

I hope that as our morning meetings continue in the months ahead, our team can celebrate the improvements to patient health and quality of life that we anticipate Mobile Integrated Health will make possible for many of our neighbors in Weymouth.

Learn more about South Shore Health’s Mobile Integrated Health program.