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Telehealth Use in Rural Healthcare – Models and Innovations

These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.

Other Project Examples

Queen Anne's County Mobile Integrated Community Health (MICH) Program
Added February 2021
  • Need: To connect patients to resources in order to reduce use of emergency services, emergency department visits, and hospital readmissions.
  • Intervention: Patients receive support (by in-person visit, phone call, or telehealth visit) from a paramedic, community health nurse, peer recovery specialist, and pharmacist.
  • Results: Between July 2016 and June 2019, the MICH program enrolled 233 patients and demonstrated a total savings of $3,393,908 in healthcare costs.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Catalina Island Telemedicine Center
Updated/reviewed August 2020
  • Need: To access specialty medical services, residents of Santa Catalina Island have to travel 20 miles by boat to southern California. A telemedicine service was needed to connect island residents to the mainland's specialty services.
  • Intervention: The Catalina Island Medical Center created a telemedicine center to give residents quick access to specialty medical care, including diabetic consultations and pain management.
  • Results: An analysis of the telemedicine program found that patients had measurable improvements, and that 90% of patients were pleased with the program and will continue to use it.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration University of Mississippi Medical Center's Center for Telehealth
Updated/reviewed January 2020
  • Need: Rural areas in Mississippi often lack adequate access to specialty healthcare services such as emergency medicine, stroke neurology, pediatric specialists and psychiatrists.
  • Intervention: The University of Mississippi Medical Center created the Center for Telehealth to deliver quality specialty services through telehealth video conferencing and remote monitoring tools to the underserved areas of Mississippi.
  • Results: The program has been successfully implemented throughout many of the state's rural hospitals and has reduced transfers and geographic barriers for patients.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Bridges to Care Transitions-Remote Home Monitoring and Chronic Disease Self-Management
Updated/reviewed December 2019
  • Need: Decrease hospital readmissions and emergency room visits for patients in rural Tidewater, Virginia.
  • Intervention: After inpatient admission or ER visit, identify at-risk patients to offer enrollment in remote monitoring and disease self-management education and coaching, with a special focus on behavioral health wellness.
  • Results: Decreased readmissions and ER visits paired with high patient satisfaction scores.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Indiana Veterans Behavioral Health Network
Updated/reviewed November 2019
  • Need: To address the lack of mental healthcare options for rural veterans.
  • Intervention: A telebehavioral health hub network was created to connect community mental health centers to the VA Medical Center.
  • Results: More than 3,000 telehealth appointments have been made, saving hundreds of veterans time and money.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Health-e-Schools
Updated/reviewed October 2019
  • Need: Rural school children lack proper healthcare resources within the school setting.
  • Intervention: Health-e-Schools provides health services to students via telehealth using video conferencing and special equipment.
  • Results: Health-e-Schools increases access to primary healthcare, increases attendance in the classroom, and decreases the amount of time that parents or guardians must take off of work to bring their child to health-related appointments.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Family Advocacy Network
Updated/reviewed September 2019
  • Need: A service to address the high number of child abuse cases reported in Nebraska in the late 1990s.
  • Intervention: The Family Advocacy Network (FAN) was developed to assist in the investigations of child abuse cases. FAN provides forensic interviews, forensic medical examinations, hair follicle testing, case coordination, advocacy, and education to help prevent revictimization.
  • Results: FAN helped over 600 children and 23 adults in 2016, as well as educated hundreds of healthcare and community professionals.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Sexual Assault Nurse Exams through the National TeleNursing Center
Updated/reviewed April 2019
  • Need: Clinicians in rural areas are often unprepared to treat sexual assault victims after an assault.
  • Intervention: The National TeleNursing Center (NTC) in Massachusetts uses telemedicine to connect Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners to clinicians in remote areas, offering them guidance through examinations.
  • Results: Clinicians report that the help gives them confidence through the examination process and NTC has assisted in the care of over 300 patients.
SCDMH Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Consultation Program
Updated/reviewed December 2018
  • Need: The shortage of mental health professionals in rural South Carolina resulted in an influx of patients admitted to emergency departments who were in need of psychiatric care.
  • Intervention: South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) partnered with The Duke Endowment to create the SCDMH Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Program. Rural emergency departments can now reach a psychiatrist to assess a patient via telehealth.
  • Results: The Program has improved access, affordability, and provided quality care for rural providers and patients with mental illness.
Capitol Dental Care's Virtual Dental Homes
Updated/reviewed November 2018
  • Need: Dentists in Polk County, Oregon who accepted Oregon Health Plan were booked out for months, causing patients with dental needs to have to wait for an appointment or travel to an adjoining county for dental care.
  • Intervention: Capitol Dental Care began a Virtual Dental Home teledentistry model to bring preventive dental care to 3 elementary schools and several Head Start programs.
  • Results: Through this program, over 700 students have received dental care in their schools.

Last Updated: 2/24/2021