Program aims to reduce ER visits with telehealth check-ins

Of the potential benefits of telehealth, its ability to bring care to rural populations who would otherwise face a shortage of physicians and medical facilities is often mentioned first.

Mary’s Center, a community health center in Washington, D.C., is testing a program to provide virtual care to Medicaid patients. A story from NPR’s member station WAMU discusses the potential for such programs to help urban populations.

"It's still early days for telemedicine, but there are lots of reasons to believe that establishing the kind of relationship between a patient and provider and having that continuity of care will ultimately reduce some of the non-emergent visits to the ER," said Erin Holve, the director of health care reform and innovation at the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance.

Washington has the highest per capita 911 call volume in the country. The city provides incentives for managed care organizations that reduce ER visits. The city council is also considering expanding reimbursement for remote visits.

"We're very supportive of the fact that our [managed care organization] partners are testing these innovations and looking at these pilots so we can have an understanding of what's really going to work for district residents," Holve says.

Read the full story here.