HRSA Awards $16 Million to Expand Telehealth Use in Rural Communities | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

HRSA Awards $16 Million to Expand Telehealth Use in Rural Communities

August 12, 2016
by Heather Landi
| Reprints
Click To View Gallery

The Health Resources and Service Administration, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded four grants totaling $16 million to improve access to quality health care in rural communities.

The funds will be used to expand the use of telehealth technology for veterans and other patients, assist providers with quality improvement initiatives, and support policy-oriented research to better understand the challenges faced by rural communities.

Administered by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) within HRSA, the awards will support 60 rural communities in 32 states, along with seven Rural Health Research Centers. 

“Rural and frontier communities face unique geographic barriers to obtaining comprehensive and convenient health care services,” Jim Macrae, acting administrator of HRSA, said in a statement. “These grants are designed to help individuals and communities access the high-quality care they need to live healthier lives.”

“These grants encourage and support collaboration at the community level, expanding and strengthening the safety net with networks of care in rural areas,” FORHP associate administrator Tom Morris said in a statement. “Collaboration among different providers of health and social services within a community means shared resources, shared expertise and shared innovations. 

The four grant programs consist of a Telehealth Network Grant Program with 21 awards totaling $6.2 million. For this program, 21 community health organizations will each receive approximately $300,000 annually for up to three years to build sustainable telehealth programs and networks in medically underserved areas. The program helps these communities build the human, technical and financial capacity to improve the quality of health information available to providers, patients and their families. According to HRSA, the program particularly encourages teleconnections to School Based Health Centers (SBHC) and all networks receiving this award include at least one SBHC. 

Through a $4.8 million grant, seven Rural Health Research Centers will each receive funding for four years to conduct rural-focused health services research that helps healthcare providers and decision-makers better understand the challenges faced by rural communities and provide information that will inform policies designed to improve access to healthcare and population health.

A Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement project, which will received $4 million, will support 21 organizations in their efforts to improve the quality of care for populations with high rates of chronic conditions. Over a three-year project period, the organizations will receive from $130,000 to $200,000 each year. The funding will help support rural primary care providers with the implementation of quality improvement activities and furthering coordination of care for patients across health care settings.

Organizations participating in the program are required to use an evidence-based quality improvement model, assess practice changes and their impact on performance, and use health information technology (HIT) to collect and report data, according to HRSA. Objectives of the program include improved health outcomes for patients, enhanced chronic disease management, and better engagement of patients and their caregivers.

Three organizations will receive grants totaling $900,000 through the Flex Rural Veterans Health Access Program to help fund the use telehealth and health IT to bring mental health and other health services to veterans living in rural areas. Each of the three grantees will each receive $300,000 annually for up to three years, expanding existing networks of public and private health care providers and enhancing the sharing of clinical information electronically.

 

Get the latest information on Telemedicine and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

Dignity Health, CHI Merging to Form New Catholic Health System

Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), based in Englewood, Colorado, and San Francisco-based Dignity Health officially announced they are merging and have signed a definitive agreement to combine ministries and create a new, nonprofit Catholic health system.

HHS Announces Winning Solutions in Opioid Code-a-Thon

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted this week a first-of-its-kind two-day Code-a-Thon to use data and technology to develop new solutions to address the opioid epidemic.

In GAO Report, More Concern over VA VistA Modernization Project

A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report is calling into question the more than $1 billion that has been spent to modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) health IT system.

Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Aimed at Improving Medicare ACO Program

U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) have introduced H.R. 4580, the ACO Improvement Act of 2017 that makes changes to the Medicare accountable care organization (ACO) program.

Humana Develops Medication Management Tool

A new tool developed by Humana enables the company’s members to keep a list of their medications in one place.

Four Hospitals Piloting OurNotes Initiative in 2018

Beginning in January, four academic hospitals—Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, University of Washington in Seattle, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire and University of Colorado in Boulder—will begin piloting a new digital tool called OurNotes that enables patients to contribute to their clinical notes.