Baltimore-based CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) plans to award up to $3 million over the next three years to programs using telemedicine to improve access to healthcare and increase efficiency.
The payer has issued a request for proposals from qualified nonprofit organizations or government entities for innovation programs aimed at increasing patients’ access to quality healthcare services through telemedicine in its service area of Maryland, northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.
In a statement, the company said the investment in telemedicine was part of an effort to remove barriers to care and address health outcomes disparities in its service area. The company is interested in awarding grant proposals to projects that focus on telemedicine interactions between provider and patient.
“While increased utilization of telecommunication technology has enabled health care providers to better evaluate, diagnose and treat patients remotely, geographic disparities in Maryland, D.C. and Northern Virginia remain,” Maria Tildon, CareFirst senior vice president of public policy and community affairs, said. "Barriers including access to providers, lack of transportation and others, should not prevent those in need from receiving quality health care, and this investment will directly impact the underserved communities in our region lacking adequate health care services.”
This is the second time that CareFirst has funded telemedicine projects. In 2013, CareFirst spent $1.3 million funding telemedicine proposals related to behavioral health in underserved rural and urban communities. Organizations receiving funding include Associated Catholic Charities, Atlantic General Hospital, Sheppard Pratt Health System and La Clinica del Pueblo.
Proposals will be accepted online via the Expanding Access to Medical Care through Telemedicine Application and must be completed no later than Nov. 23. CareFirst will host a pre-application webinar on Oct. 26.
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