Montgomery County Hospital District EMS was chosen to participate in a trial federal government program that aims to reduce unnecessary hospital trips for nonemergent medical issues, according to a May 10 news release from the MCHD. After being evaluated by a certified paramedic, the program allows patients to participate in a live telehealth visit with an emergency room physician instead of being transported to a hospital.

According to the news release, the MCHD responds to a high percentage of nonemergency calls, such as sore throats, toothaches and sprained ankles, which would qualify for a telehealth visit. The program gives patients the option to speak with an emergency physician to develop a treatment plan without leaving the home.

Nationwide, 205 EMS agencies were chosen to participate in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ET3 (Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport) program. According to the news release, the program will provide a higher level of patient care, address social determinants of health and potentially reduce response times to true emergencies.

The MCHD EMS will partner with Tele911 for the program; telehealth service is not available for patients who are experiencing a life-threatening or time-sensitive emergency.

“Most beneficiaries who call 911 with a medical emergency are transported to a hospital emergency department, even when a lower-acuity destination may be more appropriate,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in the release. “The participants in our ET3 Model will be able to deliver care to patients at the right time and place.”