NY-Based Health System To Offer Telehealth Visits For Non-Urgent Ambulance Calls

With the help of a new initiative, patients who call 911 for an ambulance for non-urgent medical conditions will have access to telehealth alternatives. The program is being led by Mount Sinai Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in collaboration with the Department of Emergency Medicine. Mount Sinai Health System is a major academic medical system in the New York metropolitan region. It employs over 43,000 people across 8 hospitals, over 400 outpatient clinics, almost 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading medical school. 

According to a press release, Mount Sinai-affiliated ambulances respond to around 100,000 911 calls annually. About 10 percent of these calls are from low-acuity patients with minor injuries, people who want medicine refills, or those who require transportation to an appointment. The new telehealth initiative seeks to offer an alternate solution through telehealth as part of the government pilot project Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3). The initial steps under the Mount Sinai ET3 telehealth program will proceed as normal. This entails a patient dialing 911, then emergency medical technicians (EMTs) showing up and evaluating the patient. EMTs will stay on the scene and link to the command center via tablets if they determine there is no need for emergency treatment. The patient will then be remotely linked to an emergency medical specialist. Although just two Mount Sinai ambulances are now connected to ET3, the health system hopes to have all 16 of them connected to one of its seven emergency rooms by the beginning of 2023. The health institution eventually hopes to expand the program’s capabilities beyond telemedicine by offering services like transporting patients to an urgent care facility, offering behavioral health treatments, and transferring them elsewhere.

“This program is exciting because it’s a new and innovative way for EMS to deliver patient care where they are and connect them to services they need without having to come to the Emergency Department,” explains Kevin Chason, DO, Medical Director for The Mount Sinai Hospital EMS group. “911 is no longer equal to an emergency department visit. Now a mobile medical team can offer more patient-centered options, and in the future it could connect patients to services in addition to telemedicine or urgent care, such as bringing patients to places like a dialysis center or primary care office where the patient is known.”

ET3 is a five-year trial program, but Mount Sinai believes that it will last beyond that time and be available to all EMS services in New York City for any patient dialing 911.