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Alabama Partnership for TeleHealth

Summary 
  • Need: To increase access to healthcare via telehealth in the rural, underserved areas of Alabama.
  • Intervention: A nonprofit organization that promotes and supports telehealth programs across Alabama.
  • Results: The establishment and support of telehealth networks at multiple sites across Alabama providing clinical telehealth services including behavioral health, stroke/neurology, and cardiology.

Description

Alabama Partnership for TeleHealth (APT) is a nonprofit organization formed in 2012 to provide a telehealth network and technical support to healthcare providers or facilities who wish to implement telehealth services via a nonacademic, nonpolitical, and mission-centered not-for-profit. APT is part of the charitable telehealth network, the Global Partnership for TeleHealth (GPT). GPT serves as the umbrella organization for Alabama Partnership for TeleHealth, Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth, Florida Partnership for TeleHealth, GPT Missions, and the National School of Applied Telehealth.

Alabama Partnership for TeleHealth logo GPT began operations in 2004 as a result of the Georgia Insurance Commissioner's vision for a single telehealth network that would provide the means for specialty and primary care providers in Georgia's health systems to virtually deliver services to underserved rural communities across the state. The GPT network has over 650 national and international endpoints consisting of providers and receivers of telehealth services. Endpoints include large and small health systems, clinics of every kind, schools, universities, skilled nursing facilities, public health offices, and correctional facilities.

During the early years of expansion, Alabama officials took notice of Georgia's successes with telehealth and invited GPT to set up a similar nonprofit in Alabama. The Alabama Partnership for TeleHealth was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2012 to advance the use of telehealth across the state. Funding was provided by GPT.

The mission of APT is to:

  • Promote and support new and existing telehealth programs in Alabama's rural and underserved regions
  • Provide education, training, and technical assistance for the exchange of high-quality and cost-effective health information among healthcare facilities and providers
  • Reduce barriers to care for rural patients

Many organizations first establish their telehealth programs with grant funding. Equipment is purchased, the infrastructure is put in place, and staff is hired – all with grant money and no mechanism in place to be self-sustaining. Unfortunately, many of these programs cease to exist once the grant funding cycle has ended. APT provides the infrastructure and staff to support it, as well as education and training.

Organizations who utilize the services of APT are responsible for purchasing equipment and hiring staff who will be trained in telehealth. Organizations pay APT a monthly membership fee, known as a partnership fee, for the infrastructure, infrastructure support, and the staff for education and training.

Original funding to establish APT came from GPT, but APT is now self-sustaining by monthly partnership fees.

Services offered

  • Turnkey telehealth solution
  • Comprehensive telehealth platform
  • Needs assessments
  • Discounts on a variety of telehealth software and hardware purchases
  • Telehealth education and training
  • State telehealth summits to further promote telehealth through presentations, discussions, and technology demonstrations
  • Cloud-based telehealth portal
  • Tele-stethoscope applications

Results

  • Multiple health networks were established with corrections facilities, behavioral health facilities, hospitals, clinics, and schools in the areas of behavioral health, stroke, and cardiology.
  • APT collaborates with multiple partners at over 50 sites.
  • Small rural hospitals no longer need to hire a neurologist or other specialists to be on staff. Rather, they can contract with a specialist and connect with him/her remotely via telehealth to evaluate patients.

Barriers

  • Physician buy-in
  • Resistance to new technology
  • Hardware and infrastructure costs
  • Limited bandwidth in certain areas of Alabama

Replication

  • Seek out and discuss with people who have built successful and sustainable telehealth programs. This is important because they understand the barriers and ways to overcome them.
  • It is necessary to develop key relationships with government, healthcare, and other organizations in order to advance telehealth.
  • Incorporating as a nonprofit that is separate from other entities is an advantage because the nonprofit is then not affiliated with any particular governmental agency, educational institution, or healthcare organization. This facilitates many partners from multiple organizations coming to the "telehealth table."
  • Reach out to the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers and connect with your regional Telehealth Resource Center.

Contact Information

Rena Brewer, Chief Executive Officer
Global / Georgia / Alabama Partnership for Telehealth, Inc.
866.754.4325
rena.brewer@gatelehealth.org

Topics
Networking and collaboration
Telehealth

States served
Alabama

Date added
April 28, 2015

Date updated or reviewed
April 12, 2019


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.