Resources for Expanding Telehealth in Underserved Areas
August 24, 2012 | Physician Practice News
“Telemedicine’s strength has always been that it provides healthcare at a distance,” said Gordon Alloway, project director, Heartland Telehealth Resource Center, during “Telehealth Resources for Safety Net Providers,” an August 17, 2012, webinar presented by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Office for the Advancement of Telehealth. However, he noted, “there’s been limited adoption by providers” due to challenges involving reimbursement, integration into clinical flow, technology costs, lack of standardization and support, and inconsistent broadband. Fortunately, many helpful resources are available. Currently, there are 11 Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) in the United States. Each serves a few states, but “they all work together as a team,” said Monica Cowan, program coordinator for HRSA’s TRC program. TRCs provide education and technical assistance to providers interested in starting or expanding telehealth services. Free webinars are held on the third Thursday of each month; for more information, see the TRC website. In addition, the Telehealth Network Grant Program funds projects that demonstrate the use of telehealth networks to improve healthcare services in rural communities. Paloma Costa, outreach program coordinator, Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), discussed USAC’s Rural Health Care Program, which helps providers get discounted telecommunications and Internet services for rural healthcare.