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$900,000 TPCA Telehealth Grant Advances Physician Access

By Jacqueline DiChiara

- If money is power, telehealth technology is royally cashing in via a substantial financial push to increase its priority level within the healthcare industry.

Grant for remote areas expands telehealth technology

The Tennessee Primary Care Association (TPCA) recently received a nine hundred thousand dollar grant from the United Health Foundation to expand and advance telehealth technology access within Community Health Centers (CHCs). A primary objective of the three-year grant involves promoting increased physician access for patients with chronic illnesses, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and depression. The various means of quality beneficiary care executed via this grant will be subsequently managed across seventeen community health centers representing over one hundred care sites.

There is active support for such an initiative within the organization.

“We are thrilled to receive United Health Foundation’s support to help us expand our work with CHCs in delivering comprehensive care for patients living with hypertension, diabetes, depression and more – especially for people living in remote areas,” states Kathy Wood-Dobbins, TPCA CEO.

The achievement of a widespread goal to expand access to quality medical and behavioral health services through telehealth technology requires this type of active partnership cultivated by this sizable grant, says State Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville).

Larger implications of the $900,000 grant

Telehealth has truly blossomed as an economically beneficial alternative to traditional face-to-face consultations or examinations between provider and patient in states with substantial rural populations, explains the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Communication in real time means physicians have more options at their fingertips for care delivery, such as video conferencing, Skype sessions, or phone calls. Via such technologically advanced means, information such as data, images, or video can be wirelessly and seamlessly transmitted between various care sites without lag time.

Because of telehealth’s ease of information transmission, the realm of telehealth is emerging as a sound alternative to a physical doctor visit, especially in areas of the country where rural areas mean transportation inconvenience or other medical hindrance for beneficiaries requiring care. The heavy emphasis on telemedicine and related mHealth sessions at HIMSS15 advocates this ongoing interest, as confirms.

There have been many active pushes to bring innovative telehealth advances, and the often related mhealth initiatives, to the front of the line within the healthcare industry. According to the American Telemedicine Association, telemedicine helped improve care for over ten million people last year alone.

Indeed, this push for virtually implemented care is being actively embraced across the board, especially in the related realm of mHealth. Forty-six percent of medical professionals confirm they will be actively introducing mobile apps within their care facilities before 2020, as recently reported. Additionally eight out of ten healthcare professionals confirm health apps will improve their comprehension of patient conditions.

Aside from a HIMSS spotlight on telehealth this week and survey confirmations of its heavy importance, it is also a hot topic within state senates. Other initiatives fervently echoing the aforementioned substantial grant award from United Health Foundation’s financial advocacy for telehealth have been addressed within recent legislation. For example, H.R. 5380 Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014, originally introduced in July of last year, aims to expand telehealth sites within rural areas with less than 50,000 people with limited care and increase the number of telehealth providers.

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia now provide various levels of Medicaid reimbursement for telehealth services, reports NCSL. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia now require private insurance plans within the state to cover telehealth services, with other states set to join in.

The potency of telehealth’s future, and additionally its mHealth sister, will likely only increase with the passing of time for the healthcare industry at large. Such a strong financial push from the United Health Foundation only highlights this concept.


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