First response

Keeping patients out of the hospital

UNTHSC/TCOM students among first in nation to participate in a mobile integrated approach to health care.

This article was originally published by the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC).

Weak from spine deterioration and skin infections, 67-year-old Dorinda Lopez often fell inside her home at a Fort Worth assisted living center. She constantly dialed 911 for help from firefighters and paramedics.

But when certified paramedic John Farris and Osama Sher, a medical student at UNTHSC, arrived at her door recently, their purpose wasn’t to load Lopez into a MedStar ambulance for another trip to the hospital.

In fact, they were there to keep her out of it.

Farris and Sher are on the cutting edge of innovation. They’re practicing mobile integrated health care, an innovative health care delivery model that provides value, promotes teamwork and improves outcomes for patients.

This integrated approach to care delivery ensures patients in out-of-hospital settings receive the right resource at the right time, preventing unnecessary emergency room visits and readmissions. Medical students at the University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth are among the first in the nation to experience this training through multidisciplinary rotations with MedStar Mobile Healthcare.

“It changes how you think about medicine because you get interaction with the patient that’s impossible in an office or hospital,” Sher said. “I see how she lives, how she eats, whether there is a railing for her to grab for assistance and who she has here to help her.”

MedStar launched its mobile integrated health program in 2009 to address patients who routinely called 911 for nonemergency purposes. For example, the same 21 patients accounted for more than 2,000 MedStar trips to a hospital emergency room in a single year. The program has led to a 72% reduction in hospital readmissions among high-risk readmission patients since 2013.

“Our students are learning to care for patients on patients’ terms,” said Darrin D’Agostino, DO, an associate dean of community medicine. “This is the future.”

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