Featured Articles: Data Points

Telehealth Services in Region X and Beyond

Monday, August 20, 2018  
Posted by: Thomas Johnson
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In 2017, HRSA began requesting that health centers report on whether they offer telehealth capabilities, and, if so, what kind of services are offered to patients. In this month's Data Points column, we will explore this data to broadly examine telehealth usage in Region X and beyond.

The question was added to the Health Information Technology Form, which health centers complete as part of their UDS report. HRSA defines telehealth as "the use of telecommunications and information technologies to share information and provide clinical care, education, public health, and administrative services at a distance." In particular, relevant technologies that fall under this definition include:

  • Video Conferencing
  • Internet-Based Communication
  • Store-and-Forward Imaging
  • Streaming Media
  • and Terrestrial and Wireless Communications

53% of all Region X FQHC's reported offering telehealth services to patients. With a high incidence of rural and frontier health centers, Alaska had the largest percentage of health centers reporting reliance on telehealth technologies (79%). Health center rurality, however, is not the only indication of telehealth usage. In Idaho, which also has a high incidence of rural health centers, only 21% use telehealth.

Telehealth Pie Chart

Nationally, only 39% of all health centers reported offering telehealth capabilities, meaning that health center patients in Region X are more likely to have telehealth services offered at their clinic than elsewhere in the nation.

Telehealth National Bar Chart

Among the health centers with telehealth capabilities, what kinds of services are being provided to patients? Nationally, half of all health centers reporting telehealth services indicated usage for mental health counseling and about 25% for primary care and specialty care. Region X health centers that use telehealth technologies, however, are considerably more likely to offer mental health counseling and primary care services via telehealth than the nation as a whole.

Telehealth Types of Services

As you can see, Region X health centers are leaders when it comes to telhealth technology, offering patients a diverse set of remote care services. If your health center is doing something particularly innovative in the field of telehealth and you would like to share your experiences at one of our conferences, please reach out to us at membership@nwrpca.org.

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