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Regions Hospital community paramedicine program improves care for diabetes and heart disease

Part of global effort to reduce premature death


     

May 20, 2019


ST. PAUL, Minn. – Preliminary data shows that home visits and personal support from community paramedics and community health workers improved blood pressure or blood sugar for up to three fourths of patients with diabetes and hypertension. The early results are part of HealthRise, a global partnership led by the Medtronic Foundation to prevent premature death in underserved populations.

Regions Hospital partnered with the St. Paul Fire Department and Minnesota Community Care to implement the three-year community paramedic and health worker program beginning in 2015.

Results

Over three years, community paramedics (CPs) and bilingual community health workers (CHWs) made 900 home visits to 111 patients. More than 80 percent of patients were people of color who had diabetes and/or hypertension. Home visits enabled the CP and CHW to identify the socioeconomic factors that prevented patients from getting better. Most commonly, these included poor nutrition, lack of transportation and physical fitness opportunities.

HealthRise preliminary results include:

  • Hypertension: blood pressure levels fell for 62 percent, including 47 percent whose blood pressure returned to a healthy or normal range.
  • Blood glucose: blood sugar levels decreased for 78 percent of patients.

Research shows that 80 percent of a person’s health is determined by factors outside of the traditional health care setting,” said Aaron Burnett, MD, medical director of community paramedicine at Regions Hospital. “The HealthRise program helped us better address the social determinants of health and to give patients skills to manage their condition on their own and keep them in the best possible health.”

Based in part on the success of the HealthRise program, Regions Hospital is continuing a community paramedicine program. The program is funded through a grant from the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation. It is serving patients in the St. Paul area and western Wisconsin. The program is designed to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and emergency department visits.

State law authorizes community paramedicine services

In 2011, Minnesota became the first state to allow community paramedics to provide care such as physical exams, blood pressure checks and medication management statewide.

“The HealthRise program adds to the evidence that community paramedicine plays a viable role in health care, and in this case, bridges a gap in the continuum of care for chronic conditions,” said Burnett. Another pilot community paramedicine program at Regions Hospital focused on patients with COPD, heart failure and heart attack. Preliminary data shows that the program helped significantly reduce emergency department visits and hospital readmissions. Learn more in this report.

About Regions Hospital

Regions Hospital is part of HealthPartners, the largest consumer-governed, nonprofit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. Regions Hospital is a Level I Trauma Center serving adults and children in Minnesota and western Wisconsin for more than 140 years. As a private, nonprofit teaching hospital, Regions Hospital provides outstanding care in women’s health, cardiology, oncology, surgery, orthopaedics, neuroscience, burn, emergency care, mental illness and more. For more information, visit regionshospital.com.

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