NRTRC Monthly Highlights
The NRTRC is conducting its' Annual Survey, which will help us understand the current state of telehealth. It will also provide a roadmap on how best to serve and support telehealth providers and patients in the Northwest region. The survey is intended for medical professionals or healthcare organizations that provide or are thinking about providing telehealth services. Those who complete the survey will be entered in drawings for $100 Amazon gift cards!
The NRTRC has partnered with the University of Utah College of Nursing to bring you Connecting Care Through Telehealth. This online course consists of 5 modules that will help you learn about telehealth best practices and virtual services in long-term services and supports settings. Topics include technology troubleshooting tips, communication etiquette, telehealth visit checklists, and evaluation tools.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services released the 2022 Proposed Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program Rule proposed in July. The Association of American Medical Colleges published a summary of proposed rule changes related to telemedicine. Also, the Center for Connected Health Policy has created a video, slide show, and fact sheet to summarize the proposed changes for the telehealth physician fee schedule.
PCA technical Assistance Virtual Forum:
Exploring Tele-Behavioral Health Clinical Decision Making
Telehealth News:

  • The proposed physician fee schedule has prompted a discussion about health equity. CMS is seeking feedback from alternative payment model participants about disparities in the U.S. health care system.

  • Researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute found disparities in telehealth use and telehealth referrals for COVID-19 testing. The study found that telehealth providers were quicker to offer COVID testing to White, English-speaking patients rather than patients who were black or had limited English proficiency.

  • A program in Hawaii is offering telehealth services at a small group of libraries. The state is targeting access to care and the digital divide with a federally funded program that will bring telehealth services and digital literacy training to 15 libraries serving underserved communities.

  • The California Telehealth Resource Center (CTRC) has created a list of telehealth focused training courses. This list includes the host of the training, information on credits, and cost, if any. This list is unvetted and unbiased and the CTRC does not endorse the companies listed.
Upcoming Events & Webinars:
  • HRSA Healthy Grants Workshop: Disability and Language Access – How to Meet Your Legal Obligations and Make Your Programs Accessible. The session will review some important questions, including:
  • Is your organization communicating effectively with people who have vision, hearing, or speech disabilities?
  • Is your medical equipment accessible to patients with disabilities?
  • Is your facility accessible to individuals with mobility-based disabilities?
  • Aug. 10, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mountain Time.

  • HRSA Healthy Grants Workshop: This session will provide an introduction to HRSA's Office of Regional Operations. The session will also cover when and how to engage the regional offices, how to get technical assistance, and the special initiatives available through the ten regional offices. Aug. 24, 1 p.m to 4:30 p.m. Mountain time.

  • CalTRC Telehealth Summit: The Ninth Annual Telehealth Summit will be held online this year, but the goal remains the same: to help expand telehealth program knowledge to meet the needs of a diverse patient population. Aug. 26-27.

  • Tele-Behavioral Health Virtual Forum on Clinical Decision Making: The Health Resources and Services Administration Region 10 office will host a virtual forum for primary care stakeholders to discuss clinical decision-making for tele-behavioral health services in rural and underserved areas. Aug. 31, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mountain time.

  • Telehealth Implementation: A Guide & Case Study for Critical Access Hospitals. (Registration coming soon.) This webinar provides practical guidance on implementing and sustaining telehealth to optimize health care service delivery, expand access, and enhance care coordination for Critical Access Hospitals (CAH).  Sept. 16, Noon -1:00 p.m. Mountain time.
Grant Funding Opportunities:

Telehealth Resources:

  • Emergency Declarations: Read each state's Public Health Emergency declarations for the seven states in the Northwest Region.

The Power of Project ECHO in Idaho

Idaho’s need for improved healthcare is urgent. According to the United Health Foundation, the state ranks 50th for practicing physicians per capita, and the state is a designated mental health workforce shortage area according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.
“The reality of limited access to specialists means primary care providers must treat patients with complicated conditions. Yet, isolation in rural communities can make it difficult for providers to get professional development and support to provide care that follows the most up-to-date standards,” said Lachelle Smith, director of ECHO Idaho. “That’s the gap ECHO Idaho tries to fill.”

“ECHO Idaho provides new perspective on difficult cases, reinforces some of my conclusions and allows me to proceed with more confidence,” said Dr. Andy Bradbury, chief medical officer for the Rexburg Free Clinic. “I make time for it because it helps me stay in line with evidence-based medicine rather than risk drifting due to my solo practice in a rural area.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping the nation, ECHO Idaho had the infrastructure to host virtual meetings and was able to design a COVID-19 program within two weeks.
“We could plan a high-impact COVID-19 program quickly because of support from the CARES funding in collaborations with the Northwest Regional Telehealth Regional Center and partners like the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare,” Smith said. “We were intrinsically motivated to deliver facts about the disease to Idaho’s practitioners and administrators so they could make informed decisions on treatment options, infection control, immunizations, variants and more.”

ECHO Idaho’s COVID-19 sessions lasted 15 months, and connected 1,153 rural and urban healthcare workers, lawmakers and administrators in 40 of Idaho’s 44 counties. Of those, 875 people were first-time ECHO Idaho participants.
Jeff Seegmiller, director of the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) 
Medical Education Program at the University of Idaho, endorsed the program. “We are discovering that there is a community of knowledge in Idaho, and when clinicians participate in this program, their clinical practice improves. That is the beauty of ECHO.”
Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center
“This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under G22RH31114, Coronavirus Telehealth Resource Center’s Grant Program in the amount of $325,000. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.”