NRTRC Monthly Highlights
Tribal Committee
The NRTRC is creating a tribal committee to provide representation of tribes throughout the Northwest Region. The group will meet quarterly to identify potential barriers and share solutions tribal providers and patients may face in adopting telehealth. The NRTRC identified the need for the committee during the tribal break-out session of the 2021 NRTRC annual conference.

If you are associated with a tribal organization and would like to serve on the committee or to nominate someone to join, please email nrtrc@utn.org.
The Center for Connected Health Policy

The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) has shared that the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released testimony regarding their ongoing assessment of COVID-19 flexibilities within the Medicare and Medicaid programs, as required under federal pandemic response oversight provisions included the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. GAO testimony highlighted Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data on recent telehealth utilization:

  • Medicare telehealth services increased from 325,000 services in mid-March to 1.9 million in late-April; it continues to steadily drop
  • Nearly 40% of Medicare visits and 60% of mental health services were via telehealth
  • Internists and family practitioners were the primary provider specialties using telehealth
  • 89 of the146 new types of telehealth services could be furnished via audio only
  • More beneficiaries under age 65 received services via telehealth than those over 65
  • Urban area beneficiaries received services via telehealth more than those in rural areas
  • Similar proportions of beneficiaries across all racial and ethnic groups received services via telehealth

Read the full report.
Telehealth News:
 
  • The American Medical Association and Manatt Health have produced a report to investigate how virtual health care programs might benefit patients, clinicians and payers. 

  • The CONNECT Act has been reintroduced before Congress for a fourth time. Backers say the proposal has broad bipartisan support and is intended to improve access to telehealth and telestroke services. 

  • Washington state has passed a law to support audio-only telehealth services.The law requires insurance providers to pay for telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits.

  • The American Academy of Neurology is backing an expansion of telehealth coverage beyond the current public health emergency. The organization plans to lobby Congress for a permanent expansion of telehealth benefits.

  • The U.S. Army is funding research into an mHealth wearable tool to diagnose concussions quickly. The research is focused on battlefield injuries, but could have applications in workplaces and in sports.

  • Remote Patient Monitoring provides the possibility of monitoring a patient's vital signs on a regular basis, improving the quality of care and avoiding expensive hospital readmissions.
Upcoming Events & Webinars:

  • HRSA Health Grants Workshop: This eight-part workshop walks through a wide variety of topics in the HRSA's health grants program. There are six sessions left. The next session will be June 15 at 3:00 p.m. MST.
 
  • Western Region FLEX Conference: The 2021 Western Region Flex Conference will focus on policy issues affecting Critical Access Hospitals and how those hospitals are facing changes in the delivery of care. June 22- 24.

Grant Funding Opportunities:

  • Telehealth Technology-Enabled Learning Program, HRSA-21-107: The purpose of this program is to connect specialists at academic medical centers with primary care providers in rural, frontier and underserved populations, providing evidence-based training and support to help them treat patients with complex conditions in their communities. Application closes June 25.

  • American Rescue Plan Act-Pediatric Mental Health Care Access-Area Expansion, HRSA-21-122: The Health Resources and Services Administration is accepting applications for the fiscal year 2021 American Rescue Plan Act – Pediatric Mental Health Care Access – New Area Expansion. The purpose of this program is to promote behavioral health integration into pediatric primary care by supporting pediatric mental health care telehealth access programs. Application closes July 6.

  • Local Community-Based Workforce to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Access-Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration: This program supports communities as they establish, expand, and sustain a public health workforce to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. This includes the hiring of community outreach workers, which includes community health workers, patients navigators, and social support specialists, to educate and assist individuals in accessing and receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. Eligible applicants for this NOFO includes nonprofit private or public organizations, including local and/or regional community-based organizations, with demonstrated experience in implementing public health programs, particularly in medically underserved areas. This includes Tribes and Tribal organizations. Application closes June 9.

Telehealth Research Study:

Washington State University is looking for people suffering from chronic pain to participate in a study to test non-opioid pain relief. The COMFORT Study is recruiting patients in Washington state who take a prescribed opioid. Participants will select two pain treatment practitioners they would like to meet with for consultation from the following options using telehealth:
  • Chiropractic therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Yoga therapy 
Participants will meet three times over the course of three weeks with a their providers for a total of six appointments over six weeks. Participants undergo an initial pain assessment with a registered nurse, then complete surveys. The goal is to see if teaching patients pain relief strategies via telehealth helps patients to effectively manage their pain, especially when in-person consultation is not available. To volunteer for the study, or to find out more, go to: https://nursing.wsu.edu/try-new-pain-treatment
Telehealth Resources:


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

Looking for facilities that provide telehealth services in Oregon?

The Oregon Office of Rural Health created an ArcGIS Story Map: Oregon Rural Health Clinic Telehealth: 2020 in partnership with the Telehealth Alliance of Oregon and the Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center.

This work catalogs the health care services that Oregon’s Rural Health Clinics are able to deliver via telehealth. Click here to see this resource.

The Oregon Rural Health Clinic Telehealth: 2020 Story Map will also be available through the Telehealth Alliance of Oregon’s new website when it becomes available early this summer. An announcement will be made when the new site is officially open.

The project was supported by grant number GA5RH37461 from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, Health Resources and Services Administration, DHHS through the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to carry out telehealth and rural health activities. HRSA used CARES funding to support the Telehealth Resource Center Program in preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19.
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.”