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Category: scaling virtual care

Funding Telehealth

As telehealth’s entrenchment in healthcare delivery continues, stakeholders are exploring ways to apply the technology in specialized patient care.

Many of those initiatives seek to improve health access and equity for vulnerable populations such as adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), aging populations, and other marginalized groups. Interest in condition-specific telehealth programs is also rising as providers aim to improve care for patients navigating treatment for things like cancer, AIDS, mental health conditions, and substance use disorder.

To fund these programs, many resource-strapped, independent, and rural healthcare facilities turn to grant programs. If you fall into this camp, here are several funding opportunities you may wish to consider applying for to support your virtual care initiative.

Federal Telehealth Funding Opportunities

Federal agencies invest millions annually to support better access to quality care for rural and underserved areas.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rural Health Care Program provides support to eligible healthcare providers for “telecommunications and broadband services necessary for the provision of healthcare.” Supported in collaboration with Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), a not-for-profit corporation charged with administering federal grant funds, the Rural Health Care Program includes two facets:

Additional federal funding opportunities for telehealth and broadband-related programs can be found at Built by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the site aggregates active funding programs from various outlets including but not limited to:

Foundation Grants

Several public and private foundations offer annual grant application opportunities. Examples include:

Region-Based Funds

Many organizations offer annual funding opportunities within specific geographic regions. Examples include:

Additional Telehealth Grant Portal Resources

The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers offers a broader list of current and upcoming funding opportunities available through foundations and within specific regional offerings. Each has either a focus on or a strong potential for telehealth applications.

The Rural Health Information Hub highlights non-Federal funding opportunities for the use of telehealth in rural settings.

HRSA Office for the Advancement of Telehealth also offers numerous grants to expand and enhance healthcare services, including telehealth, particularly for underserved populations.

Grant Application Recommendations

If you are considering applying for a grant, keep in mind that you do not have to look for grants specifically targeted at telehealth. Most grants encourage the use of technology as part of the solution.

Here are a few additional tips:

In the event that your organization does not qualify for grant opportunities or fails to secure funding after applying for one, don’t lose hope! Fleet lease options, pay-as-you-go subscription-based pricing models, and pilot programs through your telehealth partner represent just a few of the other avenues available to bring your virtual care program to life.

To set up a discovery call with a Caregility telehealth specialist, contact us here.  

Scaling Virtual Care

Programs like virtual nursing and continuous patient observation have rapidly risen to prominence as telehealth models mature on this side of the pandemic. The trend reflects an emerging hybrid care paradigm where remote and in-person engagement are blended to optimize patient care. Health systems can modernize care models and overcome many of the resource challenges hampering hospitals today by scaling virtual care to bring remote reinforcement into clinical workflows in acute settings and beyond.

To enable hybrid care across their enterprise, healthcare organizations are making virtual care and engagement accessible at every patient bedside. For many campuses, this means migrating away from siloed, pandemic-era telehealth implementations to a virtual care platform that’s better suited to support diverse clinical use cases.

As you’re scaling virtual care and refining your telehealth strategy, you want to establish infrastructure that is versatile enough to grow with you as needs change and your roadmap evolves. Here are five core tenets for ensuring long-term sustainability.

1) Reliable Infrastructure

Your virtual care platform is the heart of telehealth operations in your organization. Above all, you need a platform you can trust. Look for reliability across multiple areas, including HIPAA compliance and encryption security, ample capacity to support spikes in session concurrency, and uptime guarantees with retrospective analytics to back up claims. Conduct a network assessment with your solution partner early on to pinpoint and proactively address network weaknesses that may impede virtual care programs. Seek out partners who champion open communication and transparency in root cause analysis if and when issues arise.

2) User Experience

Ease of use can make or break adoption regardless of how much you invest in your virtual care platform. Solutions should avoid application download requirements for patient users and offer clinical users a consistent user experience across various workflows. Beyond the GUI, consider your experience with program builder, implementation, and IT support teams. Secure virtual care partners who are as easy to work with as the software and endpoint solutions they provide.

3) Centralized Administration

As operations expand, you’ll want a solution that allows you to easily manage your growing device fleet. Web-based administration portals help centralize managing multiple telehealth programs and allow remote governance and support of telehealth endpoints. Endpoint systems should be configured to proactively alert tech support remotely in case of malfunction and should be able to be restarted remotely. Reporting and analytics functionality should wield insight into program performance metrics and endpoint utilization.

4) Clinical Workflows

Clinically driven virtual care solutions that are purpose-built for specific workflows fare better than more generalized, one-size-fits-all solutions. Virtual care solution companies with extensive patient care experience on their bench bring clinical integrity to program development and can help bridge gaps between your internal IT and clinical teams. Both internal departments should be involved in strategy from the onset. Virtual clinical programs can and should be tailored to your health system’s specific needs. Start with one or two virtual workflows and expand from there.

5) Innovative Integrations

Virtual care platforms with API integration are ideal. They allow you to centralize core telehealth capacity while layering in integrations as you pilot emerging technologies. Each unit can tailor virtual care program workflows and resources for their unique needs. EHR integration allows clinicians to launch virtual sessions from a familiar work environment. Consider additional virtual care integrations such as clinical decision support (CDS), interpreter services, digital devices, and AI. Platforms that support HL7 and SMART on FHIR data standards help streamline interoperability and enable real-time access to patient data during virtual visits.

When scaling virtual care, it’s important to think multi-dimensionally about telehealth programs. What are your core workflow priorities? What additional resources can be brought into workflows to amplify efficiency and patient and clinician experience? Can programs be expanded to support multiple campus locations? By considering these variables early on you can develop a strategy that meets today’s challenges and sets the stage for continuous growth as hybrid care models continue to mature.

For a deeper dive into virtual care roadmapping and program implementation considerations, contact Caregility today to speak with one of our telehealth experts.