US Congressman Brian Higgins has secured $2m in federal funding to support the expansion of People Inc.’s telehealth service for senior citizens, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, those who are deaf and hard of hearing, and people with Alzheimer’s disease in Western New York. The telehealth service, provided in collaboration with Virtual Medical Care, will help address healthcare barriers for vulnerable groups and improve their wellness and quality of life. The service will be staffed by registered nurses with experience caring for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are available via telephone and video-based conferencing.
In Western New York, a US Congressman has secured $2 million in the federal 2023 budget to support the expansion of People Inc.’s telehealth service for senior citizens, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, those who are deaf and hard of hearing, and people with Alzheimer’s disease. People Inc. is a nonprofit health and human services agency offering programs and services for senior citizens and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization provides a telehealth service in collaboration with Virtual Medical Care, which is designed to support independent living and improved medical outcomes.
The telehealth service is staffed by registered nurses with experience caring for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are available via telephone and video-based conferencing. They can help assess injuries, address medication concerns, differentiate between behavioral and medical issues, and connect patients to the appropriate level of care. Additionally, People Inc. has a partnership with Deaf Access Services through which American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation options are offered during virtual visits.
US Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) has emphasized the significance of providing routine and preventative services to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable groups. The funding for People Inc. will address the barriers to healthcare access faced by these groups and ultimately enhance their wellness and life quality.
Telehealth services have become increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic as individuals with chronic conditions, disabilities, and other vulnerable populations experience more barriers to receiving adequate healthcare. Research has indicated that telehealth services could help boost care access and lower costs for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD).
In 2021, New York-based managed care plan Partners Health Plan (PHP) announced the results of a 12-month pilot program that provided telehealth services to around 1,100 members. The program fielded nearly 700 calls from PHP members during that period and succeeded in resolving 90 percent of the health inquiries. PHP stated that the telehealth service saved members with I/DD up to $1,900 in individual healthcare costs and saved the health plan about $2.2 million in the emergency room and hospital admission costs.
Western New York also joins Missouri in expanding telehealth services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Last month, the Missouri Division of Developmental Disabilities partnered with IntellectAbility and StationMD to offer residents with disabilities access to telehealth services supported by web-based health risk data. The services provided by StationMD are available to patients receiving care under the MO Division of Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver. StationMD clinicians can also access IntellectAbility’s Health Risk Screening Tool, gaining insights into subjective patient health risks.
Anne McCaffrey, president, and CEO of People Inc. have expressed her appreciation for the grant as the organization aims to offer expert, face-to-face care to vulnerable individuals in their homes. The telehealth service provided by People Inc. could have a significant impact on the health outcomes of seniors, individuals with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations in Western New York.