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I/DD Care Provider Uses Telehealth to Save $100K in ER Costs Over 2 Years

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   July 25, 2023

Mainstay Life Services, which offers support for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in Pennsylvania, reduced ER and urgent care clinic visits and improved clinical outcomes through virtual care.

A Pennsylvania-based support provider serving people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) has reportedly saved almost $100,000 in emergency care costs over the past two years through telehealth.

Pittsburgh-based Mainstay Life Services, which currently supports roughly 400 people and their families across 42 sites, has partnered with New Jersey-based StationMD, which offers specialized telehealth services for people with I/DD in 21 states. Through that collaboration, StationMD has facilitated 245 telehealth visits over that two-year span.

According to a press release issued by StationMD, 92% of those visits were resolved without need of a medical transport, and 27% of those visits (67 visits) would have resulted in transport to an ER or urgent care clinic had telehealth not been available. This resulted in a savings of $98,758 in reduced hospital and emergency care costs.

“People with I/DD often have complex medical issues in addition to their underlying disability diagnosis," Maulik Trivedi, MD, FACEP, co-founder and chief strategy officer for StationMD, said in the press release. "Our clinicians are able to address and resolve over 90% of the medical concerns via our telehealth solution. We’re providing a backbone of care and serving as a critical medical resource 24/7 for individuals, families, and support staff.”

[See also: Breaking Down the Barriers to Care for People with I/DD.]

The savings point to the value of virtual care for a specific population that faces extra challenges in accessing healthcare. Whether living at home or in a structured setting, people with I/DD often need specialized care and aren't able to easily visit a doctor's office or clinic.

The Mainstay/StationMD partnership was profiled in a brief published in February by Resources for Integrated Care (RIC), an advisory firm that focuses on care for patients with dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid. RIC estimates that 8% of that population under the age of 65 live with I/DD.

"Research shows that organizations have increased their use of telehealth technologies to better serve individuals with I/DD," the brief states. "Some reported benefits of telemedicine for people with I/DD include lower cost of care, lower transportation costs, improved medication reconciliation communication, and less exposure to communicable diseases especially during the [COVID-19 Public Health Emergency]. By assessing the impact of telehealth on individuals with I/DD, healthcare providers can continue to adapt and innovate ways to better serve people with I/DD through the use of various telehealth modalities."

[See also: Innovative Partnerships Power Mobile Integrated Health Programs.]

According to a separate RIC brief, a 12-month pilot partnership in 2018 between StationMD and New York's Partners Health Plan resulted in 679 telehealth visits, of which 90% were resolved without need for further medical care. That, in turn, saved Partners $2.2 million in ED and hospitalization costs, $20,800 in transportation costs and $1,900 per member in medical costs.

Mainstay, which has increased its use of telehealth services by 288% since January 2022, plans on expanding its relationship with StationMD. They also plan to talk about the partnership at the 2023 Rehabilitation & Community Providers Association (RCPA) conference this October in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“StationMD has helped the people we support to connect immediately from the comfort of home with doctors who understand them best," Kim Sonafelt, Mainstay's chief executive officer, said in the press release. "We’re seeing better health outcomes. Their team is happier, and the cost-savings allow us to offer better services.”

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, and Pharma for HealthLeaders.


Mainstay Life Services has partnered with StationMD for two years to offer telehealth services for its patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and their families in Pennsylvania.

Through the program, 92% of those telehealth visits were resolved without need for further medical care, including 27% (67 telehealth visits) that would have resulted in a trip to the ER or an urgent care clinic.

A similar partnership in New York saw Partners Health Plan save more than $2 million in one year through reduced ER visits and hospitalizations, amounting to a savings of $1,900 per member in care costs.

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