Posted: July 06, 2022
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has become an invaluable service to a variety of populations – from at-risk patients to those who live in rural areas, to students and incarcerated individuals and more. In having access to telehealth, these populations can get the treatment they need while avoiding unnecessary (and at times, risky) travel and potential exposure to COVID-19.
However, access can often be a challenge. For example, many providers who are part of larger healthcare networks already had access to telehealth services and have been able to implement virtual visits with limited expense. But for smaller independent practitioners or providers located in rural areas, the implementation of telehealth has been more challenging.
Luckily, providers and organizations can explore federal grant and special funding and reimbursement programs to help offset the costs associated with building a telehealth infrastructure and offering high quality virtual care. Additionally, by enabling more providers to connect virtually with patients, more people will have access to care.
There are many programs offering grant funding that support building telehealth solutions into organizations for a variety of reasons – from increasing access to care to modernizing healthcare offerings.
Generally speaking, it’s best to have a grants team in place to champion the application process – ranging from IT roles, to clinical and program staff, community outreach, grant writers, finance roles and senior management. As always, develop a strategic plan to apply and support the program, expect a 60-day waiting period between application and award and apply early.
Below is an overview of grants available in the U.S. that can support eligible providers and organizations in building and maintaining a virtual care ecosystem. Keep in mind, the timelines for applications and funding announcements are constantly changing.
The HRSA has created several grant programs to promote and advance telehealth services in rural areas. In August 2021, HRSA announced more than $19 million in funding to improve telehealth in rural and underserved communities.
Several grants continue to be open for applications, including Rural Community Opioid Response Programs for Medication Assisted Treatment Access, and Maternal and Child Health Programs. The Rural Telementoring Training Center funding opportunity, open through January 2023, is focused on training academic medical centers in the creation of technology-enabled telementoring learning programs that facilitate the dissemination of best practice specialty care to primary care providers and care teams in rural and underserved areas.
To see the funding opportunities that are currently open, visit: https://www.hrsa.gov/grants/find-funding.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the U.S. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.
The grant opportunities that SAMHSA fund help to reduce the impact of mental and substance use disorders in communities and improve the lives of individuals living with/or in recovery from mental illnesses and substance use disorder.
For example, SAMHSA is accepting applications for the Cooperative Agreements for School Based Trauma-Informed Support Services and Mental Health Care for Children and Youth grant through July 25, 2022. The purpose of the program is to increase student access to evidence-based and culturally relevant trauma support services and mental health care by developing innovative initiatives, activities, and programs to link local school systems with local trauma-informed support and mental health systems, including those under the Indian Health Service.
To view the latest grant announcements, visit here.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a grant program to provide $500 million in funding for the expansion of access to COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, rural health services, and food assistance. The program has two tracks – one for immediate economic relief related to the COVID-19 public health emergency and another for advancing solutions to challenges and supporting long-term sustainability for rural health care.
Under track one, recipients may use grant funding to increase telehealth capabilities including telehealth information systems. Public bodies, community-based non-profits and federally recognized tribes are eligible to apply for the program. In order to qualify for funding, applicants must have facilities located in and primarily serve rural areas with no more than 20,000 residents as determined by the most recent US Census data.
Telehealth Resource Centers provide technical assistance and deliver consults, trainings, and conference presentations in order to assist, educate, and inform organizations and individuals who are actively providing or interested in providing health care at a distance.
There are two National Telehealth Resource Programs: National Policy Center – Center For Connected Health Policy that focus on policy and the National Technology Center – Telehealth Technology Assessment Resource Center (TTAC). By offering a variety of services in the area of technology assessment, the TTAC aims to become the place for answers to questions about selecting appropriate technologies for a telehealth program.
Additionally, there are twelve Regional Telehealth Resource Programs that provide resources for rural and underserved areas.
The HRSA Telehealth Resource Centers can also help providers with training and support, publicizing information and research findings, collaborations and partnerships, promoting effective partnerships, and providing health care information and education to the public and medical specialists.
Let’s Talk Interactive can provide assistance and guidance for the grant application process. We are not permitted to apply; however, our platform often times can address the call for innovation and our experience makes the end-to-end process easy, fast and safe.
Interested in learning more about telehealth grants and funding? Contact us today to find out how Let’s Talk Interactive can help you build a virtual care plan to implement these grant programs to start or expand your telehealth practice.