CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, a Baltimore, Md.-based health insurer, has announced that it plans to invest up to $1.5 million over the next three years to assist healthcare providers in expanding the use of telemedicine in an effort to increase access to quality behavioral healthcare.
CareFirst is seeking proposals from community health centers, nonprofit organizations, and public health entities in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia that either have an existing program or are planning new initiatives that expand behavioral health services through telemedicine, particularly in underserved urban and rural areas.
In some portions of CareFirst’s mid-Atlantic service area, access and a lack of qualified providers make it difficult for patients to obtain behavioral healthcare services, including substance abuse disorders. This grant seeks to eliminate barriers to quality healthcare for underserved populations. CareFirst’s initiative aims to focus on innovative technology including video-conferencing capabilities that give providers and patients face-to-face interaction, its officials say.
Organizations that apply for the grant must outline a plan for improvements in patient behavioral health outcomes while increasing access, effectiveness and efficiency in quality care. Applicants may seek funding to create new telemedicine programs or enhance current telemedicine efforts. Interested organizations must apply by Nov. 22.
“We really want to encourage organizations to take advantage of this unique opportunity to improve the community’s access to behavioral health,” Daniel Winn, M.D., CareFirst vice president and senior medical director, said in a statement. “It’s important for us to find organizations with sound approaches for improving behavioral health clinical outcomes.”