State Implements Telepsychiatry Initiative

North Carolina’s Office of Rural Health and Community Care (ORHCC) serves citizens in all 100 counties in the state  ORHCC has recruited an average of 149 health professionals to chronically underserved areas of the state for each of the past six years. Last year alone, recruitment efforts attracted a record 160 number of primary care physicians, psychiatrists, and dentists to the state.

According to federal guidelines, 78 counties in the state qualify as Health Professional Shortage Areas since there are shortages of primary medical care physicians, 81 counties provide inadequate dental care, and 58 counties have a lack of mental health providers to meet population needs.

Starting in January 2014, ORHCC will start to implement Governor McCrory’s Statewide Telepsychiatry Initiative to bring psychiatric assessment and treatment services to hospital emergency departments struggling with a lack of available mental health practitioners.

ORHCC administers a budget of $37 million and also has provided support to rural areas in terms of capital funding or technology improvement to 19 rural health centers in 17 different counties plus connects 96,000 uninsured adults to a primary care medical home.

In addition, ORHCC received a $773,728 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to augment state funding to provide free and/or low cost prescription drugs in rural counties over a 12 month period. Through the medication assistance program, ORHCC hopes to provide $22 million in medications for 48,000 patients in at least 18 of the state’s most economically distressed counties.

ORHCC support innovative demonstration projects to improve healthcare delivery. The Office received a demonstration grant from the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, also known as CHIPRA. Through this program, the office is evaluating medical home models to reduce costs and demonstrate the positive impact of EHRs.

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