Funding now available for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs)

This past summer, Congress passed Legislation  deeming skilled nursing facilities eligible for Rural Health Care (RHC) Program funding.  If you are a Skilled Nursing Facility or an organization that works closely with SNFs we strongly encourage you to participate on an upcoming introductory webinar offered by USAC on January 17.  You will have an opportunity to ask questions and get more detailed information about this program.

Through the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, $400M per year is available to health care providers for reduced rates on telecommunications services and broadband access! By participating, health care providers can save an average of 65% on eligible services. 

During this webinar, you’ll learn about the funding available through the RHC Healthcare Connect Fund and Telecom Programs, the differences between the programs, how to apply, and tips for successful participation. 

Is your organization or a health care provider you work with eligible? Click here to check: (HCF Program) and (Telecom Program).

Please click here to register for the webinar.

HRSA grant opportunity

The Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) is soliciting applications for the Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant Program (“Network Planning”). The purpose for this program is to assist in the development of an integrated health care network, in order to: a) achieve efficiencies; b) expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of essential health care services and c) to strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. The project period is June 2017 through May 31, 2018.  The application Due Date is January 3, 2017

For more information please click here

Telemedicine at the Minnesota State Fair….coming up!

Again, this year, gpTRAC, will be demonstrating telemedicine at the Minnesota State Fair. If you plan to visit the fair, please come and join us to experience telemedicine or if you have a skin spot that you need an opinion from a dermatologist or just stop and say “hello”. We will be located inside the University of Minnesota building, which is located on Dan Patch Avenue, at the fair, next to the Food building. We have scheduled seven telemedicine sessions which will be connected to seven dermatologists from the community who will be educating fairgoers about their skin condition and providing some very valuable advice. This is a FREE program.  We hope to see you at the fair!

Scheduled teledermatology sessions:

Saturday, August 27, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Tuesday, August 30, 12:00-02:00 p.m. (two sessions, 1-hour ea)

Thursday, September 1, 06:00-07:00 p.m.

Friday, September 2, 09:00-10:00 a.m.

Saturday, September 3, 09:00-10:45 a.m.

Monday, September 5, 12:00-01:00 p.m.



One of the nation’s largest regional health plans in the Midwest has launched a multi-year program to monitor and treat their Medicare populations with heart failure, pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes.  This program will monitor patients in their own homes to promote patient engagement, improve patient outcomes and prevent costly and burdensome re-admissions. The remote monitoring and management of these patients is provided by AMC Health, a leading provider of virtual care solutions. AMC’s Bluetooth-enabled devices will allow patients to report their daily biometric measurements, such a weight, blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, and inhaled medication use. The patient data along with behavioral and symptom information will be transmitted to a secure cloud-based clinical platform which utilizes a sophisticated analytics engine to alert the care team to patient’s emerging health issues so the care team can prioritize outreach to the right patients before these issues become serious problems. AMC Health’s team of registered nurses (RNs)  will monitor and provide the support to patients with an alert status and they will act as an extension of the health plan’s care management teams.  In addition, AMC Health will focus on specific gaps in care to support the health plan’s commitment to clinical quality and STAR ratings.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

The Indian Health Service (IHS) today issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to provide telehealth services at its seven hospitals and many health centers and other facilities throughout Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. IHS is seeking to expand telehealth services as a means of strengthening access to care at its facilities in all 19 Great Plains Area service units, which serve 130,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives.

IHS is seeking your help in distributing this RFP to interested parties.  Please feel free to share the following link with anybody inside or outside your organization who might have an interest in this opportunity.

American Telemedicine Association (ATA) Annual Conference

The American Telemedicine Association’s (ATA) Annual Conference & Trade Show is the world’s largest and most comprehensive meeting focused on telemedicine, digital, connected and mobile health.  This year ATA 2016 will take place May 14-17, 2016, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

An estimated 6,000 attendees from traditional medicine, academic medical centers, technology and telecommunications companies, e-health, medical societies, government and others will attend.  The meeting will feature 75+ peer-reviewed sessions – as well as keynote presentations from leading individuals transforming the Telehealth industry – on how they’re overcoming barriers and advancing telemedicine through the professional, ethical and equitable improvement in health care delivery. In addition, over 300 healthcare technology product and service providers will be on display in the exhibit hall.

Early bird pricing is available until April 15th. Click here to learn more about ATA 2016 and to register for the event!


Proposed Federal Telehealth Law Could Save Medicare an Estimated $1.8 Billion

A bipartisan group of US Senators led by Brian Schatz (D-HI) has introduced legislation that would enable an expansion of telemedicine services covered by Medicare, and could result in substantial cost savings.

The bill’s other sponsors are Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

The bill, the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, contains three significant policy changes that would serve to increase use of telehealth technologies:

The bill would:

  • Establish a “bridge program” that allows doctors participating in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) to apply for demonstration waivers that would exempt them from restrictions Medicare imposes on the coverage of telehealth,
  • Cover telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) for provider participants in Alternative Payment Models (such as Accountable Care Organizations-ACOs, Patient Centered Medical Homes-PCMHs, etc., and
  • Provide for coverage of RPM technologies for patients with chronic conditions to fee-for-service physicians and practitioners, whether or not they participate in Medicare quality and value improvement programs

Click here for more information


Telemedicine in Retail? It’s Already There!

Telemedicine has expanded from its traditional setting (hospital, clinic, doctor’s office) to a more “convenient” location for the patient – the supermarket. MercyCare Community Physicians recently launched its first retail telemedicine clinic at the Edgewood Hy-Vee grocery store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The telemedicine clinic is similar to a regular office visit. After checking in, patients are taken to a private room where a registered nurse takes their health history and documents their vitals and symptoms in EPIC (Mercy’s Electronic Medical Record system). The nurse calls the provider using Cisco technology embedded in the AMD Global Telemedicine Clinical Assist system.   and The provider appears on a video feed which enables him/her to have a live interaction with the patient and give instructions and education to the patient. The nurse remains in the room for the duration of the exam and, at the direction of the provider, uses telemedicine diagnostic equipment (stethoscope, otoscope, general exam camera) and AGNES interactive software to assist the provider with the physical examination. Some of the typical acute conditions assessed and treated include, but are not limited to, sinus infections, ear infections, urinary tract infections, rashes, flu and more.

The telemedicine clinic operates Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Plans to extend these hours are coming in the near future.

This type of telemedicine demonstrates that  healthcare can be made available to patients anywhere they live, shop or work.  Patients now have the convenience of receiving immediate care in their local area without the process of making an appointment. Congratulations to MercyCare Community Physicians and Hy-Vee for using innovative ways to provide quality and affordable care to patients.


Telemedicine program at the MN State Fair..Don’t miss it!

Come and see us at the Minnesota State Fair and experience telemedicine “in action”. You will get “a taste” of what telemedicine is like, see some of the technologies used in telemedicine, and have the opportunity to get a free dermatology screening from a Minnesota dermatologist and a small prize. We have eight (8) scheduled sessions with seven dermatologists that have volunteered to do this. The sessions are listed below. This program takes place inside the University of Minnesota building, at the fair, which is located on Dan Patch Avenue, near Underwood street, and next to the Crossroads building.  We hope to see you at the fair.

Scheduled sessions:

Friday, August 28                      02:00-03:00 p.m.                    Dr. Cindy Smith
Friday, August 28                      03:00-04:00 p.m.                    Dr. Kia Lilly
Saturday, August 29                 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon             Dr. Jennifer Lee
Sunday, August 30                   12:00 noon-01:00 p.m.             Dr. Spenser Holmes
Tuesday, September 1              01:00-02:00 p.m.                     Dr. Kimberly Bohjanen
Thursday, September 3            12:00 noon-01:00 p.m.              Dr. Cari Dakin
Friday, September 4                 11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon             Dr. Kia Lilly
Saturday, September 5            12:00 noon-01:00 p.m.              Dr. Maria Hordinsky




Remember…it is about the patient!

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a presentation on Minnesota Public Broadcasting (MPR) by Adam Darkins, MD, which again energized me about the work that we do supporting the growth and development of telehealth.

Dr. Darkins, VP for Medical Affairs and Enterprise Technology Develop at Medtronic, was presenting at a conference in Minneapolis focused on the use of technology in healthcare. Early on in his presentation he said something that made me sit up a bit straighter and listen just a bit more closely. It was something that I have heard many times from a former co-worker of mine (a registered nurse and telehealth champion): remember, it is about the patient.

Yes! That is who must stay at the absolute center of our focus as we discuss all things telehealth!

Telehealth, more simply healthcare, must focus on what is happening with the patient. When we consider the new opportunities in telehealth, we need to specifically identify what problem we are trying to solve, not just for the provider, the health system or the insurance company, but for the patient.

While convenience and access are both key components to the value of telehealth, it needs to be about more. It must also be about improvements – improvements in a patient’s overall health, improvement in the overall costs of providing that care, improvements in the health of the general public – in order for telehealth to truly make a difference.

Or maybe, as Dr. Darkins shared, it is about shifting the model of care to more fully benefit the patient. Maybe the patient’s primary care location really is considered their home, and they would “in-reach to the hospital” or clinic for supportive services and care when needed, rather than obtaining “outreach from the hospital” only after a major illness episode or the identification of a disease. His description of the current or traditional healthcare delivery model as being “very much from the industrial age”, where you brought people TO their care access point, is really not the way the rest of the world functions today. It is becoming more important to figure out ways to bring healthcare to the patient, in their everyday experiences. The right place for the provision of care could be almost anywhere, and the right time could be now.

Healthcare, supported by telehealth, needs to continue to focus on what is actually being done and why, remembering always…it is about the patient!

Listen to the entire presentation here: