Mount Sinai turns to telemedicine to cut ED use, readmissions

As reimbursement for telehealth care grows more ubiquitous, hospitals increasingly are taking advantage of the technology to improve patient care. Case in point, New York-based Mount Sinai Health System this week announced the launch of several telehealth initiatives to extend care beyond its walls.

New York is one of eight states currently with both legislated parity for private telemedicine coverage and legislated Medicaid coverage, according to the American Telemedicine Association.

"Technology has evolved to a point where it is less of a novelty in our doctors' offices and more of an essential part of our physicians' toolkits--and, indeed, an everyday part of our patients' lives," Kumar Chatani, executive vice president and CIO at Mount Sinai, said in a statement. "The time has come for telehealth to move to the next level by putting it into wider practice."

Mount Sinai's forthcoming efforts include a program that will enable doctors in the Mount Sinai Doctors Faculty Practice to connect with patients remotely, as well as a partnership with an upstate community health center to bring epilepsy care to rural patients. A third program--aimed at reducing hospital readmissions--allows emergency providers to consult with chronically ill patients in their homes.

Sixty-four percent of 2,019 consumers recently surveyed by Harris Poll on behalf of telehealth company American Well say they are willing to consider a video chat with their doctor instead of an in-person visit.

What's more, a study published late last year found that a telehealth visit saves about $100 or more compared to the estimated cost for in-person care. It put the cost of the average telehealth visit at $40 to $50, while in-person care can cost as much as $176.

To learn more:
- read the Mount Sinai announcement
- here's the ATA's telemedicine coverage matrix (.pdf)