KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A telemedicine service for Missourians with intellectual or developmental disabilities is sticking around longer than planned.
Even as the population of people get vaccinated, telehealth still offers a lot of benefits.
StationMDprovides quick access to licensed physicians 24/7. Missouri launched a partnership with the service in July 2020 in order to allow people with disabilities to stay home, where they could be protected from COVID-19.
Valerie Huhn, director of the Division of Mental Health, said the state recently extended the partnership until February 2022.
The service is available to 15,000 Missourians with disabilities who are on a Medicaid waiver.
"What we learned through using this service is that it has value long after the pandemic is over," Huhn said.
The service allows people to avoid taking a trip to the emergency room or doctor's office by simply getting on their computer.
David Earls said his son, Edward, who was diagnosed with non-verbal Down Syndrome, has benefited from StationMD at the facility he lives in through the Center for Developmentally Disabled.
"I think it's great," Earls said. "That means they don't have to try to transport the residents in wheelchairs onto a van, and down to the doctor and then reverse the whole thing I mean it can take an hour."
Aside from the convenience, Earls said he feels secure knowing his son is getting help from a licensed physician who takes Medicaid.
"To me that's the biggest single advantage to something like StationMD, just the quality of the care," Earls said.
Dr. Maulik Trivedi said the service can be used for everything from rashes to more serious medical conditions.
"It's a win for the individuals, because it allows them to receive this top-quality medical care at home, but it also ends up saving health care dollars, because we are avoiding ER visits, we are avoiding hospitalizations at times," Trivedi said.
Huhn said the the service also saves the state money because of its affordability.
Trivedi said the partnership being extended is an example that telemedicine will be here to stay after the pandemic.
"I think if there's any silver lining to this pandemic it's proven that telehealth has tremendous value, we can deliver, in fact, better-quality medicine using this modality," Trivedi said.