All our member CCOs are doing a wonderful job of ensuring that Oregon Health Plan (OHP) members are getting all their needs met during COVID-19, and this week, we decided to highlight an exciting new initiative by Advanced Health.

Out in Coos and Curry Counties, Advanced Health CCO is looking to increase access to telemedicine by creating what they call the “Telehealth Access Fund.” This fund is specifically geared toward providing funds to health care providers so they have the financial bandwidth to improve or install technology that allows them to visit patients virtually.

Essentially, any health care provider in Coos or Curry County can apply for dollars through Advanced Health CCO, sharing information on how much financial support they need, what they intend on purchasing, and a few other details. Then, Advanced Health runs these applications through its board and Clinical Advisory Panel (CAP). Once applications are approved, these dollars go straight to the provider to invest in telehealth.

While Advanced Health is accepting applications from all network providers across their service area, they are working to ensure that small, independent health care practitioners, especially those in behavioral health and substance use treatment, know about this program and have the information they need to apply for it.

Advanced Health has been interested in launching a program like this for quite some time. Because the service area they work in is incredibly rural, Oregonians often must drive long distances to get to an appointment. Increasing providers that utilize telehealth will be positive during COVID-19, so no one risks exposure, but the effects of this fund are much more long-lasting than that.

During the pandemic, health care providers utilizing telehealth can use a wider range of platforms than usual, including Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, etc. However, once COVID-19 is a thing of the past, providers will need to return to HIPPAA-compliant technology to deliver telehealth. By providing these dollars to local providers, Advanced Health is ensuring that those providers will be able to offer telehealth to everyone in their area, even after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.

Advanced Health is not stopping there with their efforts to increase access to telehealth during this pandemic. On a case-by-case basis, they are working to get much-needed technology to those who may not have access to a computer or smart phone, so that they can continue their regular health care.

Thank you, Advanced Health, for your dedication to ensuring your community has the resources they need during the pandemic. These investments will reap positive outcomes for years to come. Your innovation is impressive!