Blues target underserved with $1.3M

February 21, 2014 in Medical Technology

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) has pledged to invest more than $1.3 million in four initiatives designed to expand the use of telemedicine to treat patients with behavioral healthcare needs in underserved urban and rural areas of Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Responding to a request for proposals CareFirst issued last October, the community health organizations receiving grants are:

  • Catholic Charities of Baltimore will use its $53,479 grant to provide behavioral health services to about 120 underserved children and adults in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel and Allegany counties using video-conferencing technology;
  • Atlantic General Hospital on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, in partnership with Baltimore’s Kennedy Krieger Institute, will use its $189,656 grant to provide initial evaluations and follow-up visits to about 325 children and young adults with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders in Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties;
  • La Clinica del Pueblo of Washington will receive $424,635 to expand remote access to its bilingual counselors and healthcare providers through teleconferencing to about 650 patients in the D.C. area; and
  • Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore will use its $647,200 grant to provide about 1,200 patients of federally qualified health centers in Worcester, Somerset, Garrett, Cecil, Caroline and Dorchester counties with access to psychiatrists via teleconferencing and video-conferencing.

[See also: CareFirst revs up mobile engine.]

During the next three years, CareFirst’s funding will help healthcare providers treat nearly 2,300 children and adults who suffer from substance abuse, autism and other behavioral health disorders. Each program will use telecommunication technology – including video-conferencing, telephone and other electronic communications — to give health care providers the ability to assess, diagnose, treat and educate patients remotely.
CareFirst’s goal is to eliminate barriers to quality healthcare for underserved populations.

“These organizations are at the forefront of a growing movement to use the power of the technology at our hands to treat children and adults who suffer from a variety of behavioral health disorders,” said Maria Harris Tildon, CareFirst’s senior vice president of public policy and community affairs, in a news release. “We look forward to tracking their progress and seeing how they improve the level of care provided to thousands of patients who may not otherwise receive the treatment they need.”

[See also: CareFirst puts up $8.5M for safety net health programs.]

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