Why is Telehealth Important?
While telehealth will never replace the importance of the in-person patient-provider relationship, particularly with children, widespread adoption among SBHCs can overcome many current barriers to access, including:
Lack of transportation, particularly in rural areas.
School closures: providing access during school vacations, holidays and emergencies (such as the ongoing pandemic).
Cost: telehealth creates efficiencies in space and time by allowing providers to increase productivity and to cover multiple sites. It can also be used to expand access to specialty care.
Surges in demand: greater productivity and flexibility can address surges in demand without long waits for care.
A recent survey sample, representing nearly half of the SHBC sites in the State, indicates that telehealth adoption prior to the Coronavirus emergency was low (24% of all sites). Adoption shot up to 77% of all sites as a result of the emergency, driven by patient needs, waivers of CMS HIPAA requirements and increased reimbursement. Adoption was hasty and uneven, frequently relying on telephones. Following the crisis, providers will need to upgrade their telehealth platforms to include HIPAA-compliant, reimbursable services.
Among SBHCs using telehealth, the survey showed the services most commonly provided to be:
Behavioral health: at 100% of sites using telehealth;
Primary medical care: at 75% of sites using telehealth;
Oral Health: at 26% of sites using telehealth.
The survey also found over half of the SBHC sites now seek to expand telehealth capacity by adding providers, additional sites and/or a broader scope of service, resources permitting.
About the Telehealth Pilot Program
The Foundation has launched a 2-year state-wide initiative begun in 2021 with generous funding from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to facilitate the expanded use of compliant and reimbursable telehealth for primary and preventive, behavioral and oral healthcare. This initiative will provide the expertise and resources to help participants:
Select and acquire the most appropriate hardware and software;
Determine the workflow necessary for effective implementation; and
Train staff in the above.
This program provides small start-up stipends to support a project designed by each organization. Funds may be used for equipment, software, marketing, student/family engagement, and more. Because services are expected to be reimbursable with implementation of appropriate telehealth platforms, this capacity expansion will be sustainable.
Telehealth Program Goal
To improve access to care to students and their families, whether school buildings are open or closed, through expanded and optimized use of telehealth resources.
In Cohort 1, we worked with 10 Sponsoring Organizations operating 66 SBHC sites in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Westchester County and New York City. We recently recruited 8 new Sponsoring Organizations for Cohort 2. We're looking forward to sharing our findings from the program!
Owner of ADK Health Solutions,
Director of Regulatory Affairs of HANYS
Katy Cook is the owner of ADK Health Solutions, a new health care consulting firm based out of the Capital Region of NYS. She also serves as the Director of Regulatory Affairs for the Healthcare Association of NYS (HANYS). Prior to her time at HANYS, she served as a state sponsored telehealth expert, working for the Adirondack Health Institute. At AHI, she managed the end-to-end development of multiple telehealth programs and service lines in health centers, hospitals, behavioral health organizations, home health agencies, and more around the North Country region.
2022 Program Manager (Year 2)
Consulting, Program Management /Healthcare Delivery
Judy Duhl is a consultant with broad experience in healthcare delivery transformation, project management, public policy, and government relations. As principal at JLD Healthcare Solutions, she managed projects aimed at supporting frontline LTC workers through recruitment and retention initiatives, and helped operationalize a care management program in primary care practices as consultant to a DSRIP PPS. Prior to this, Judy served as Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, at Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY).
2021 Program Manager (Year 1)
Principal, Morningside Health Strategies
Ms. Perry is a consultant with extensive executive experience in health care performance improvement. Her work focuses on data-driven innovation in patient services and operations. As
Principal of Morningside Health Strategies, recent engagements include fund development and project management for multiple programs of the New York School-Based Health Foundation; FQHC operational assessment; team-based care optimization; software evaluation &; data strategy design.