NEW YORK, N.Y. & MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (July 6, 2021)—Partners Health Plan (PHP) and StationMD launched a partnership to improve access to medical care for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD), which includes those with cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, autism and other physical and mental impairments. One year of data demonstrated that the partnership significantly reduced the need for emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalization, thus reducing medical costs for patients and payers.
PHP is a managed care organization dedicated solely to providing support and services to 1,750 individuals with I/DD in the New York downstate region. PHP currently has approximately 1,100 members who have access to the StationMD telehealth technology. StationMD is a telemedicine company specializing in serving people with I/DD across the country.
“Our son has significant medical needs from a neurological impairment. At the height of the pandemic, he suddenly started clenching his jaw, and he stopped engaging with us. He needed immediate medical assistance, but a trip to the ER could have been devastating to his safety and well-being. Through our PHP telemedicine benefit, a StationMD physician provided immediate, informed, and sensitive support, and navigated us through this critical neurological episode without us ever leaving home,” said Maria Pizzano, whose son participated in a virtual visit with StationMD.
The 12-month pilot program demonstrated:

  • Of the approximately 1,100 PHP members who have access to the StationMD’s telehealth service, there were 679 calls to StationMD.
  • StationMD was able to resolve 90% of patients’ medical matters virtually.
  • Over 12 months, the specialized service allowed:
  • PHP to avoid spending up to $2.2 million in ER and hospitalization costs
  • PHP to avoid spending up to $20,800 in transportation costs
  • A savings of up to $1,900 per member on medical cost

According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the chances of dying from COVID-19 are higher for those with I/DD than they are for people with congestive heart failure, kidney disease or lung disease. At the onset of the pandemic, it was critical for the health and safety of PHP’s members to have a telehealth partner specializing in I/DD patient care to help them avoid unnecessary hospital visits where they could be exposed to coronavirus.
“We are thrilled with the StationMD partnership in helping our members avoid disorienting—even traumatic—visits to the ER 90% of the time. Their ability to bring specialized doctors to a virtual examination room allowed our members to get the medical care they needed without the anxiety associated with a trip to the ER and delays in receiving care services and treatments. This is a clear example of rethinking health care in a person-centered manner,” stated Kerry Delaney, CEO of Partners Health Plan.
“Our model bridges people with I/DD to doctors who are best-trained to meet their needs, and that translates to better health outcomes. This specialized telemedicine model is providing people with I/DD a better standard of care while solving access issues. It also eases the pressure on support professionals and families,” said Dr. Maulik Trivedi, MD, Chief Strategy Officer at StationMD.
While COVID-19 was a catalyst for launching the partnership, this approach addresses the regular medical concerns people with I/DD encounter on any given day. The service can be used for urgent matters like fevers, seizures, mental health issues, and for routine matters such as a prescription refill. Improving healthcare access has been a life-saving measure for individuals with I/DD, their direct support professionals, and families during this time. As the demand for flexible and affordable I/DD home and community-based services grows, people with I/DD and their families now have a model that can be expanded to achieve this end.

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