As OSF HealthCare continues its transformational work in Streator, the organization recently kicked off two new forward-thinking initiatives. Both projects are intended to help the rural health care model progress.
First, a workgroup has formed to examine the concept of Mobile Integrated Health, or MIH, to assist patients at high risk for hospital readmissions by using home visits to address needs and avoid hospital stays. Other communities who have trialed MIH have found success in improving patient outcomes and reducing the total cost of care.
Working toward a similar vision, the Streator group consists of area first responders, behavioral health experts, communication professionals, innovation experts and representatives from a number of other disciplines both within OSF HealthCare and in the community. Their goal is to better serve people by redesigning the approach in which community resources like emergency medical services, fire departments, and ambulance services interact.
“Our community is fortunate to have a comprehensive EMS system where multiple people and agencies stand ready every day to provide coordinated emergency medical care,” said Ken Beutke, President of OSF HealthCare Center for Health - Streator. “Together, we’re exploring a collaborative response to help patients get the right care or service, at the right time and place, by treating them before they have a need for emergency medical care or transport.”
The frequent reliance on first responders to handle non-emergency medical situations was identified as an issue at the group’s kick-off meeting. Certain populations within the community are unable to access care through traditional means and often need assistance connecting to the appropriate resources. The group believes Streator could benefit from a community team-based approach to serve everyone in need.
“Ultimately, we need to get to the point where EMS providers and others responding to the patients’ needs have more tools in their toolkits for the people they’re serving,” said Cheryl Crowe, Director of Behavioral Health for OSF HealthCare.
Access to psychiatry and addiction-related services are examples of where gaps in care currently exist, Crowe added.
Additional discussion involved access to services like a 24-hour pharmacy, telehealth and home care services. Enabling 911 dispatchers to better understand a patient’s needs to dispatch the most appropriate service was named as a future opportunity. So was empowering paramedics to perform proactive home visits.
While a variety of ideas were discussed, the group will ultimately be tasked with determining the feasibility of implementing their proposed solutions.
OSF HealthCare also launched a second important workgroup. Comprised of staff members representing administration, health care analytics, finance, performance improvement and other OSF HealthCare divisions, as well as community leadership from Live Well Streator, the collaborative aims to develop a measurement plan to evaluate the success and sustainability of the rural health care model.
Simply put, the group must identify and compile data to create a baseline number for patient outcomes, financial metrics and other trackable measures. From there, they’ll seek to create a tool that captures that information in a single snapshot.
“We’ll be able to evaluate the sustainability of health care in a rural community and track the impact on community health outcomes,” said Don Damron, Vice President of Ambulatory Care for OSF Center for Health - Streator. “This measurement tool will provide us the ability to gauge the true effectiveness of our collaborative efforts within the community and help us respond to needed change.”
From metrics and measurement to a collaboration of first responders and emergency medical services, OSF HealthCare continues to innovate and invest in the community. These projects will be key as the organization develops the framework to serve Streator residents well into the future.