NEW ORLEANS – When Advanced Care Alliance created its urgent care program, the provider knew it needed to combine telehealth and remote monitoring to help it save money.
Since the program was implemented two months ago, ACA has been able to divert four out of five calls from the emergency room.
“We’re filling in the gaps in care for this population,” said Dixie Comeau, lead consultant with Telehealth Associates, an integrator of telehealth technologies, who is working with ACA on the program. “We’re providing person-centered care; it’s less expensive and more efficient; it’s accessible and it’s scalable.”
ACA, which represents more than 105 agencies in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley, presented a case study at the Home Health Technology Summit this week in New Orleans.
Technology has been the centerpiece of the program, said Comeau. Using a $5 million grant from the New York State Department of Health’s Balancing Incentive Program Innovative Fund, ACA purchased several MedPod telemedicine kits, which include devices like an otoscope, a stethoscope, a blood pressure machine and a tablet with synchronous video capabilities. The kits work with a custom software platform that incorporates patient data and is accessible by care providers.
Comeau said the grant was the largest awarded from the state program and the only one to evaluate telemedicine’s impact. The funding has been extended twice.
Taking the time to design all aspects of the urgent care program was worth the effort, Comeau said. ACA logged 30 telehealth visits using the kits in February and March alone.
“Our clients used to go to the ER for lots of routine stuff,” she said. “The program is growing and growing.”