One of the reasons for overcrowding and longer wait times in the ER is that many patients show up with semi-urgent or non-urgent conditions. Mount Sinai Health System, one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, has unveiled a new method to try to reduce the number of non-urgent patients.  

Mount Sinai’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in collaboration with its Department of Emergency Medicine will now offer telehealth services to selective individuals who contact 911 with non-urgent medical problems. This initiative is a component of a federal pilot program known as Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3). The project will employ a novel method for EMS to provide patients with treatment at their place and connect them to the services they seek without unnecessary visits to the Emergency Department.

Many of these 911 callers do not require an ER visit. ET3 intends to save thousands of these people from visiting emergency rooms, sparing them their time and a stack of medical bills. With the implementation of this new pilot program, 911 services will no longer be synonymous with trips to the ER. When a Mount Sinai ambulance arrives in response to a 911 call, the emergency medical technicians and paramedics still perform their routine patient evaluation. Personnel remain on site and use tablets to communicate with the Mount Sinai command center if they believe a patient does not require an emergency room visit. Once connected, the emergency medicine professional interacts with the patient via the display screen and delivers telehealth care on the spot. This service is accessible 24/7.

Although ET3 is a five-year trial project, Mount Sinai expects that it will be expanded beyond the pilot stage so that the emergency services within New York City will be able to offer this to anyone who dials 911. The new trial project is yet another great use of telehealth that can reduce costs and improve health service delivery.