Leveraging telehealth in rural regions with limited access to technology and broadband

Use Case: The Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition

NUIHC group

The Challenge

The Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition (NUIHC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that provides community health care and services targeting the urban American Indian and Alaska Native population in the greater Omaha and Lincoln metro regions in Nebraska, and Sioux City, Iowa metropolitan area. When faced with a pandemic and the need to provide behavioral health services remotely, the NUIHC researched solutions that would enable them to continue to serve the community safely and effectively.

“We knew telehealth was a great option to keep our community connected to support services during the pandemic, however we were not sure how much our organization would utilize telehealth for the long term,” said Kenneth “Beau” Boryca, Behavioral Health Director at NUIHC.

In order to justify the programming, the solution had to be easily accessible and compatible with the technology currently being leveraged by the community. This meant whether someone had a smartphone, a computer, or a tablet, they could access their therapy and health sessions easily and securely.

The Solution

After researching telehealth training and hardware solutions, NUIHC learned about Let’s Talk Interactive’s virtual conferencing software which is compatible with any device that has internet access. “LTI partnered with us and offered around-the-clock support to enable us to set a simple workflow that worked for our organization. We were up and running in a matter of days,” added Boryca.

To ensure the community was able to access telehealth sessions, NUIHC purchased tablets and data which they handed out to community members to support usage of virtual care solutions during the pandemic. They also provided one-on-one training for members of the community who were not familiar with the devices or internet to make sure they were confident in accessing their providers.

The Results

Despite reopening their doors to in-person sessions in spring 2021, NUIHC reports that virtual sessions remain consistent - with roughly 85% of total sessions continuing to be conducted via telehealth in the fall of 2021.

LTI has served 1,966 sessions totaling more than 105,419 minutes of telemental health support

“We were able to continue to provide consistent support to our community throughout the pandemic thanks to Let’s Talk Interactive’s telehealth solutions. Telehealth is not going away - this is something we are going to continue to offer post-pandemic. Many of our clients prefer telehealth sessions because it saves so much of their personal time to meet virtually from wherever they are that day. On the administrative side, the platform has made sessions easy to schedule and improved our note documentation, while providing the necessary security features we need with a HIPAA-compliant solution.”

To me it’s a home run. The assistance LTI provides along with the simple upgrades -- the experience has been a game changer. I know documentation is a big thing people struggle with. Having the notes section available digitally makes reporting at the end of the day so streamlined - I can pull up session notes easily and complete them.

Other benefits the NUIHC is experiencing includes an improvement in no-show rates, consistency in length of treatment time in both telehealth and in-person appointments, and reimbursement rates that are just as good for telehealth sessions as in-person.