CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, a health insurer covering Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, has announced the 10 organizations that it will support financially in launching or developing telemedicine initiatives.
The insurer first announced the program, which offers $3 million to non-profit organizations and government entities for "innovative programs using telemedicine to improve access to health care and increase efficiency", last fall.
"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 Harris Tildon, CareFirst Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Community Affairs, said in a statement at the time. "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."
The largest share of the $3 million will go to Mosaic Community Services in Central Maryland. They will receive $501,590 to increase their patients' access to behavioral health services and enhance care coordination. Three more are getting grants of $400,000 or more: Cornerstone Montgomery will receive $415,000 to bring behavioral health to underserved communities, the Queen Anne's County Health Department will get $400,000 for a community telehealth initiative, and George Washington University will get $410,000 to create a telemedicine clinic for underserved patients in Washington, DC.
Additionally, the Children's Hospital Foundation will get $300,000 for home pediatric care for uninsured and Medicaid patients, The Medical Society of Northern Virginia Foundation will get $250,000 to recruit volunteer specialists, Virginia Hospital Center Foundation will get $250,000 for a new outpatient clinic, Total Health Care will get $245,046 to deliver primary care via telehealth to patients with diabetes and hypertension, and, finally, the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation and the Western Maryland Health System will receive $100,000 each to use telehealth at a skilled nursing facility and to help patients with chronic conditions, respecively.
“CareFirst’s support for programs like these is a crucial component to bringing adequate health care services to those who need it most,” Tildon said in a statement. “Whether improving upon behavioral health services, enhancing care coordination, or increasing the availability of specialty care, support for each of these initiatives will help provide invaluable and innovative care to some of our most underserved communities.”
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.