The Massachusetts Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Telehealth Consortium was awarded a grant for $226,660 from the Digital Equity Fund of the Essex County Community Foundation https://eccf.org/digital-equity.
The grant was issued in partnership with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) https://broadband.masstech.org/ at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
The funding will support a new Telehealth Navigator Program that will increase access to telehealth while also addressing digital equity in under -resourced communities located in Essex County.
The Telehealth Navigator Program is designed to overcome barriers to telehealth and provides a model approach to regional philanthropy collaboration that we are eager to replicate throughout the Commonwealth,” says Michael Curry, Co-Founder of the Consortium and President & CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.
Opportunities for patients and caregivers to access telehealth includes:
1) Reliable access to broadband and Wi-Fi internet, smartphones and/or computers, and private spaces in which to carry out telehealth visits
2) Involvement of interpreters to aid in communication during appointments
3) Understanding of and engagement with telehealth as a safe and effective modality of care
4) Fostering patients’ digital literacy and confidence in virtual care
The two FQHCs participating in the Telehealth Navigator Program will hire telehealth navigators from within the communities they serve. The telehealth navigators will participate in a statewide learning community focused on training and integrating with key healthcare services.
The navigators will engage patients in telehealth including those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color, patients who prefer to be served in languages other than English and elderly patients which are all groups that are at risk of being left behind by telehealth. Navigators will connect patients to technology and digital literacy resources and provide hand-on assistance in helping them use technology to access healthcare via telehealth.
“We are excited to support and fund the Telehealth Navigator Program which will help address the technology barriers of patients by teaching them how to effectively use telehealth and remote monitoring devices,” reports Michael Baldino, MBI Director and General Counsel.