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Community Health Centers and Emerging Telehealth Technology

Community Health Centers and Emerging Telehealth Technology

A two-part blog series on emerging Community Health Centers telehealth utilization trends and resulting implications for vulnerable patient populations

Community Health Centers provide a wide range of affordable healthcare services for underserved and at-risk populations. Their value is amplified by the current healthcare climate wherein the burden of Coronavirus illness and death is disproportionately felt among racial and ethnic minority groups and low-income communities. What’s more, the social and economic conditions cited as root causes for health inequity are the same factors that isolate patients from healthcare services during public health emergencies. 

COVID-19 was a game changer in reducing barriers to care for people afraid to seek routine care

Ron Yee, Chief Medical Officer of the NACHC

A recently published report from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) indicates that Community Health Centers across the country are rapidly adopting Telehealth solutions to bridge the gap of in-person care during the pandemic. According to Ron Yee, Chief Medical Officer of the NACHC: 

“Applying technology to bridge gaps between patients and providers is an important advancement in health care equity… Health centers were using telehealth before the pandemic struck to expand access to care, particularly in rural areas where there have been hospital closures and people have to travel far distances to see a provider. However, COVID-19 was a game changer in reducing barriers to care for people afraid to seek routine care or who were following stay-at-home orders.”

Relatively fast adoption of the technology was, in part, enabled by CMS temporary amendments declared this past April on telehealth coverage and payment policies by federal and state governments during the pandemic; reimbursement has previously been cited as the predominant barrier to implementing the technology for Community Health Centers in particular.

Percent of Community Health Centers Using Telehealth Solutions graph.

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, telehealth has quickly presented itself as a viable alternative to in-person care for Community Health Centers and the 29 million patients they serve.

In next week’s blog post we will continue to analyze the impact of Community Health Centers, specifically focusing on the importance of native-language based SMS communication for promoting patient engagement. In the meantime, read up on the latest healthcare happenings, product highlights, and more on our blog: https://www.lumahealth.io/blog/

SURVIVE & THRIVE WEBINAR: PART 1

Stages 1 and 2 of managing the COVID-19 pandemic: This webinar discusses what clinicians are seeing in their practices right now and shares best practices. 

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