Finger Lakes Community Health Telehealth Network
- Need: To provide organizations with telehealth infrastructure in order to improve the healthcare access for rural residents.
- Intervention: New York's Finger Lakes Telehealth Network (FLTN) provides an open access network to facilitate partnering organizations collaboration.
- Results: FLTN provides connectivity using telehealth technology services to more than 20 partnering organizations, including FQHCs, specialists, hospitals, and other provider groups, allowing for a collaborative sharing of services, as well as cost savings to providers.
Finger Lakes Community Health (FLCH), a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), wanted to improve rural residents' access to healthcare, without providers having to travel to various site locations. To meet this goal, Finger Lakes Telehealth Network (FLTN) provided video-conferencing access to healthcare providers for virtual examinations.
The FLTN is unique because it offers open access to its telehealth infrastructure and support resources to each of its partnering organizations. Affiliates pay a small required subscription fee to join the network, and are able to receive telehealth broadband services at a 65% discount through the FCC Rural Broadband program. This facilitates collaboration on clinical and educational opportunities without partner investment in network infrastructure and development costs
Primary care providers are able to better assist patients by conferencing with off-site specialists. An important secondary benefit of telehealth consultations is real-time primary provider education.
Program expansion since 2015 includes expanded behavioral health telehealth consultations, and engagement with suggested coinfection screening initiatives for Hepatitis C in HIV patients.
For more information on why FLCH sought out telehealth as a solution, see The Rural Monitor article Technology Stemming from Tragedy.
A variety of services are offered by the FLTN including:
- Clinical mentoring, Continuing Medical Education (CME), and distance education
- Culturally and linguistically appropriate patient education programs
- Dental screenings and dental care
- Head Start physicals and exams for children of migrants
- Eye exams for visual acuity, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy
- Expanded behavioral health services for adolescents and adults
- Since 2015, 3 professionals and pediatric services for age 5 and up
- Hepatitis C-HIV screening and treatment, case-management driven program
- Occupational health consultations
- FLTN is able to provide its telehealth infrastructure and services to more than 20 partnering organizations, including several FQHCs and other healthcare providers. Telehealth also enables Finger Lakes Community Health providers to meet for virtual monthly meetings, which has resulted in a cost savings of nearly $4000 per month.
- ADHD patients have shown marked improvement in school grades
- National averages for coinfection screening, treatment and follow-up have been exceeded, with initial suggestion that these results are related to case management
For more information:
Langelier, M., Rodat, C., & Moore, J. (2016). Case Studies of 6 Teledentistry Programs: Strategies to Increase Access to General and Specialty Dental Services. Oral Health Workforce Research Center. Free full-text
Some challenges Finger Lakes Community Health has faced include:
- Ensuring adequate broadband speed and coverage to allow for telehealth connectivity in rural areas.
- Educating healthcare providers and patients about the benefits and return on investment of telehealth
In order to create a similar program, it is important to:
- Speak with providers who have implemented a telehealth program to avoid unnecessary equipment costs
- Have basic understanding of a telehealth network
- Create understandable programming infrastructure for staff
- Implement user training for all involved staff
Contact InformationMary Zelazny, CEO
Finger Lakes Community Health
Federally Qualified Health Centers
Networking and collaboration
July 31, 2015
Date updated or reviewed
December 4, 2017
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.