St. Mary’s Develop NY’s 1st Telehealth Program for Kids with Complex Needs

Funded by Balancing Incentive Program, remote patient monitoring solution expected to reduce avoidable hospitalizations and improve care delivery

St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, New York’s largest provider of post-acute care to children and young adults with medical complexity, has been awarded a $928,668 grant to improve care for children who receive services at home through the implementation of an innovative remote patient monitoring program. The grant—funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and awarded by the New York State Department of Health—enables St. Mary’s Home Care to deploy an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) program, with the three-fold goal of reducing avoidable hospitalizations, increasing medication adherence, and increasing overall patient/family satisfaction.

The pilot program includes 500 patients identified as most at risk for admission or readmission to hospitals and other institutional settings. In addition to receiving traditional nursing and rehabilitation home care visits, patient caregivers receive regular automated calls from an IVR system inquiring about the child’s medication adherence, falls, emergency room visits, occurrences of major medical events, and other changes in condition. The responses to the brief 2-3 minute calls automatically generate reports, flagging responses that require immediate outreach by the telehealth nurse manager or other home care staff. The calls provide an additional opportunity to enhance communication and improve the collection of patient information, thus identifying potential areas of risk and enabling the case manager to step in with appropriate and preventive interventions. Additional expected outcomes are increased communication among clinicians, accelerated medical interventions, and improved organizational efficiencies.

St. Mary’s telehealth initiative, the first in New York State for children with medical complexity, is supported by AMC Health, a leading provider of proven remote patient monitoring solutions for organizations serving at-risk populations. Several AMC Health programs have demonstrated dramatic results, including an initiative by Geisenger Health System (PA) that demonstrated a 44% reduction in risk for 30-day re-hospitalizations among Medicare populations, as reported in the peer-reviewed “Medical Care” publication in January 2012. In New York State, five similar telehealth initiatives with non-pediatric populations improved care and reduced costs by more than $1.3 million.

“Based on successful outcomes in adult populations, we are confident that telehealth can be a major innovating force in the care of children with medical complexity,” remarked Edwin Simpser, MD, St. Mary’s president and chief executive officer. “We expect this project to produce measurable outcomes in the home setting, reducing the need for more intensive medical care for children with multiple chronic conditions.”

“Remote patient monitoring is redefining how and where patients receive care, with meaningful and clinically actionable information collected at the patient’s home,” said Nesim Bildirici, president and chief executive officer of AMC Health. “We are excited to collaborate with St. Mary’s to bring the proven benefits of telehealth to pediatric populations.”

State and national healthcare policy is placing a strong emphasis on rebalancing care from hospitals and other institutional settings back to the community. For more than 30 years, St. Mary’s has been a strong advocate for community-based services and an innovator in home care programs for children and young adults with highly complex medical conditions. This grant will allow St. Mary’s to supplement its existing community programs to enable at risk children to remain at home with their families.

The grant was awarded as part of the Balancing Incentive Program’s (BIP) Innovation Fund, a highly competitive funding opportunity that fosters community inclusion by shifting care from institutional settings to the community. St. Mary’s was among New York’s leading healthcare providers that competed for a pool of $45 million in BIP funding, as authorized by the Affordable Care Act.