Ute Pass Regional Health Service District Paramedics Roll Out Program for Innovative COVID-19 Response

Date: May 22nd, 2020Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics:


CORHIO data utilization helps paramedics in this large district make a greater impact than ever before.

Although the Ute Pass Regional Health Service District serves 62,000 Douglas, Teller, and Park county residents across 539 square miles, things have been unusually quiet. Calls to the typically bustling emergency and non-critical ambulance, 911 response and community health and monitoring service have been cut in half with the arrival of COVID-19.

“We know there’re still a lot of people who need medical attention, but we’re finding that many are too afraid address their medical needs and are foregoing care due to the COVID-19 crisis,” says James “Tiny” McLaughlin, Captain of the district’s Community Paramedicine program.

Earlier this month, the district launched a new service called the H.O.M.E. Program, which stands for “Health Care Options Mobility and Engagement.” The program combines an in-home paramedic visit with a telehealth consult by a physician. Ute Pass was already addressing mental health concerns through a similar program, so the district was able quickly launch the H.O.M.E. program and respond to the community’s evolving needs.

“We are trying to instill some confidence in the community and created a way for people get healthcare in a non-traditional manner during a non-traditional time,” he says. “We’re putting a new spin on the physician’s house call, so if someone is afraid to go to the emergency room or visit their doctor, they can call 911 and request a H.O.M.E. Program visit.”

Instead of taxing the emergency response system, McLaughlin believes the new service will actually increase the district’s capacity. For every ambulance the district dispatches, two H.O.M.E. program vehicles (a fleet of SUVs) can be sent.

During a H.O.M.E. visit, a paramedic will visit the patient and performs a full assessment. As part of the assessment, the paramedic reviews the patient’s health history through PatientCare 360® and then brings in a physician via a secure video connection.

“This allows a 4D view of what’s going on with the patient,” McLaughlin explains. “We can see what is going on in the home environment, we can physically examine the patient and get a full set of vital signs, all the while tapping into the expertise of a physician. This is a force multiplier for paramedics and physicians.”

PatientCare 360 is particularly helpful to ensure the information the patient provides is complete, he says. Any new information gathered during the visit can be documented and securely sent to the patient’s primary care provider, as well as being added to the patient’s community health record.

“We’ve had a mindset for doing this kind of care for a while now, but right now was the right time. We could sit around and keep talking about it, but the community needs it now,” McLaughlin says. “This has been a community-wide effort with support from local healthcare systems, physicians, EMS agencies, and El Paso County’s incident command team.". 

Using CORHIO tech to help underserved populations

Ute Pass also leverages CORHIO’s technology to help expand their programs and services to include a community-based paramedicine approach.

“We have seen the value of CORHIO’s offerings for a long time,” McLaughlin says. “We received a grant to access their system in 2019 and it has opened up some amazing doors for us.”

The district’s Paramedic Advance Care Team (PACT), in particular, heavily relies on PatientCare 360. PACT provides point-of-care services to underserved populations and collaborates with a number of community partners to improve outcomes and continuity of care. 

Paramedics who stabilize and transport patients use PatientCare 360 to access patient information and offer in-person follow-ups after discharge from the hospital. The visit may include disease or condition education, review of coverage or setting up insurance, and ensure the patient has a primary care provider. They can also facilitate access to resources like affordable prescription medication if the patient is facing financial difficulty.

Alleviating patient burden

“We want to empower patients with information we believe can help them manage their disease better and enable them to be a champion for their own health. All of this is dependent on our access to the patient’s medical history,” McLaughlin says. “CORHIO helps us get past the patients, who are often overwhelmed, so we can get a more accurate picture of the patient’s condition and really understand their challenges.” CORHIO data has also helped the district improve its billing process.

“We try to avoid unnecessary billing to the patient,” McLaughlin says. “The less we can put the ownness on the patient to be forced to engage in that process, the more of a benefit we are to them. We want to decrease their workload so they can focus on recovery.”

He adds, “We know we can’t be an answer to everything, but we work with a lot of awesome community partners who either have the answers or can help us find the answers.”