The Department of Health Care Finance recently awarded six grants to local organizations to support new telehealth services for residents in Wards 7 and 8 as well as residents of homeless shelters and public housing developments. The grants, which total $350,000 will run through September 2018. These projects will connect patients to specialists such as cardiologists, psychiatrists. emergency physicians and pharmacists, using interactive audio, video, or other new technology. As telehealth programs emerge throughout the District, healthcare providers can use this model of care as a critical tool to improve health outcomes, increase access to care, and lower health care costs.
The grants address several goals set in the DC Healthy People 2020 Framework, a shared community agenda that monitors 150 objectives and 85 strategies for improving population health in the District by 2020, using both traditional and non-traditional programs and stakeholder input. Several grantees are also working specifically with Medicaid beneficiaries who qualify for DHCF’s new My Health GPS care coordination initiative.
Wards 7 and 8 Telehealth Grantees
Medical Home Development Group- Medical Home Development Group will address specific health problems in Wards 7 and 8 by providing telehealth services to their primary care patients. The objective of the grant is to reduce health disparities in Wards 7 and 8 by improving access to mental health services, colorectal cancer screenings, and individualized pharmacy consultations for high-risk patients.
Unity Health Care- Unity Health Care will implement a pharmacy-focused telehealth approach by offering clinical services provided by pharmacists. The objective is to increase access for patients with diabetes to clinical pharmacists to improve health outcomes.
Accent on Health- AOH will partner with Tri-State ACO Group to ensure that patients have access to specialty care via telehealth for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure and/or a behavioral health condition, which AOH estimates may reduce patient wait time for specialty care consultations by as much as 33%.
GW Medical Faculty Associates- The MFA will focus on three activities in their grant: 1) building knowledge with an environmental scan and heat map of telehealth resources in the District; 2) building capacity by training providers on the appropriateness of telehealth; and 3) testing feasibility of services in traditional and non-traditional formats, such as by partnering with the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in Ward 7 and Bridgepoint Hospital in Ward 8 to deploy telehealth services.
Shelters and Public Housing Telehealth Grantees
Urgent Wellness- Urgent Wellness will improve access to care for the residents in a public housing development located in Ward 7. Urgent Wellness will partner with stakeholders who will link residents to distant site acute care and psychiatry services via telehealth. The residents of the development will be connected to local family medicine providers and behavioral health providers with a goal of 1) reducing acute care wait times and decreasing emergency department utilization and 2) reducing the wait time for acute care, behavioral health, and psychiatry appointments.
Unity Health Care- Unity will increase access to specialty care services (dermatology, psychiatry) for homeless residents. Unity will operate at several homeless service sites in which they already provide health services. The objective is to expand access at homeless shelters to specialty care services via telehealth and augment patient and provider willingness to participate in telehealth services in the future.
For additional information on DHCF’S telemedicine provider guidance, rulemaking, and more please visit: dhcf.dc.gov/page/telemedicine
For additional information about telehealth innovation programs, contact:
Health Care Reform and Innovation Administration
Department of Health Care Finance