More and more health insurers are embracing telemedicine as a way to provide lower-cost care to a large swath of covered patients. But at least one health insurer, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, is investing heavily in bringing telemedicine to those who might otherwise not have access to it.
The payer, which covers Maryland, northern Virginia, and the District of Columbia, is offering $3 million in grants to non-profit organizations and government entities for "innovative programs using telemedicine to improve access to health care and increase efficiency". Specifically, they're looking for proposals that focus on interactions between provider and patient.
"While increased utilization of telecommunication technology has enabled health care providers to better evaluate, diagnose and treat patients remotely, geographic disparities in Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia remain," Maria Tildon, CareFirst Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Community Affairs, said in a statement. "Barriers including access to providers, lack of transportation and others, should not prevent those in need from receiving quality health care, and this investment will directly impact the underserved communities in our region lacking adequate health care services."
This is the second time CareFirst has offered grant money for telemedicine projects in this way. The company previously spent $1.3 million funding proposals related to behavioral health in underserved communities. Organizations that received funding include Associated Catholic Charities, Atlantic General Hospital, Sheppard Pratt Health System and La Clinica del Pueblo.
Proposals will be accepted online through November 23, and a webinar to further explain the program will be hosted October 26.