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HHS to Put $35M Toward Telehealth for Family Planning




The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would make $35 million in American Rescue Plan funding available for Title X family planning providers to strengthen their telehealth infrastructure and capacity.

Title X family planning clinics help to insure access to a broad range of reproductive health services for low-income or uninsured individuals.

“I’ve seen first-hand the critical role that telehealth plays in serving communities, particularly to protect so many families from COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement about the grant availability.

“As providers transitioned from providing in-person primary care to offering telehealth services, we were able to test, vaccinate, and act as lifelines to communities disproportionately hit by the pandemic,” he said. “Increasing our investment and access to telehealth services remains critical.”


The Office of Population Affairs funds 71 Title X family planning service grantees and supports hundreds of subrecipients and thousands of service sites around the country.

Family planning includes a broad range of services related to reproductive health, including contraception, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy testing.

Although abortion care can be co-located with family planning services, Title X funds cannot be used to pay for it.

Although some services require in-person treatment and exams, others can be carried out via telehealth – as evidenced by grantees’ use of virtual care to help their patients during the COVID-19 crisis. Still, facilities may not have adequate technology available.

“During the global COVID-19 pandemic, family planning programs have accelerated the use of telehealth,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health, in a statement.

“These ARP funds will facilitate the delivery of quality family planning services and reduce access barriers for people living in America who rely on the health care safety net for services,” she added.

HHS plans to use the funds to award about 60 one-time grants to active Title X grantees. Organizations must apply by February 3, 2022, and notices of awards will be announced before the project start date of May 1, 2022.


Even as the government has moved to shore up telehealth infrastructure via funding, the question of virtual care’s future continues to hang over Congress.

Despite requests from hundreds of advocacy organizations, legislators have so far failed to take action to permanently safeguard telehealth after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency – what some activists have referred to as “the telehealth cliff.”

“We recognize there are many unknowns related to the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic over the next 12 to 24 months,” said American Telemedicine Association CEO Ann Mond Johnson in October. “However, we implore Secretary Becerra to provide as much predictability and certainty as possible to ensure adequate warning before patients are pushed over this looming cliff.”


“The pandemic has laid bare the important role that telehealth can play in our nation’s healthcare service delivery, and we are profoundly grateful for the opportunity to support continued investments in telehealth for the nation’s family planning safety net,” said Jessica Swafford Marcella, HHS deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, in a statement.

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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Health Care

PatientBond, Vizient Team up for Digital Behavior Change Tools




Patient engagement SaaS provider PatientBond and healthcare performance improvement and analytics company Vizient are partnering up to provide Vizient member healthcare organizations with digital patient engagement and behavior change programs.

WHY IT MATTERSPatientBond’s digital engagement workflows can be personalized with psychographic insights, with the aim of activating patient behaviors and driving improved patient engagement and outcomes.

Through the partnership, Vizient’s customer base, which includes academic medical centers, pediatric facilities, and community hospitals, will offer programming including care gap closures, condition specific messaging, screenings and appointment reminders and appropriate use communications.

The aim of the programs is to reduce hospital readmissions and improve digital health risk assessments.

Other programs included in the deal will provide psychographically segmented marketing campaigns to advance patient/member activation, as well as patient and physician matching or find a doctor services based on psychographic insights.

The deal will also provide extensive market research insights and dynamic payment reminders for partners.

THE LARGER TRENDPatient-reported outcomes are a critical way to assess the ongoing state of patient health and satisfaction, and a growing number of digital tools are helping them do so.

The financial upside for care providers is also noteworthy: Jackson Hospital significantly improved its finances with digital patient engagement tools, switching from letters and phone calls to automated emails and text messages along with some help from analytics.

At Rush University Medical Center, the hospital has deployed similar digital tools to reduce the strain of avoidable readmissions and ED recidivism when resources already were at capacity.

Last year, Cardinal Health announced the launch of a digital patient engagement platform aimed at addressing medication adherence challenges – a significant issue for the health industry and patients.

In 2019, Vizient collaborated with Civica Rx on provider needs analytics data to reduce Rx costs. By providing insights into purchasing patterns and provider needs through its analytics and data capabilities, Vizient helped Civica Rx anticipate gaps in drug availability and affordability.

ON THE RECORD“PatientBond brings consumer science and dynamic intervention technologies to healthcare with unmatched clinical and business results,” said PatientBond CEO Justin Dearborn in a statement. “Vizient’s member healthcare organizations can benefit from PatientBond’s personalized patient engagement at scale with proven and consistent results.”

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.comTwitter: @dropdeaded209

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LifePoint Health Inks Data Deal With Health Catalyst




Brentwood, Tennessee-based LifePoint Health has entered a new collaboration with Health Catalyst and will use its analytics technologies to help bolster care quality, lower costs and improve population health management.

WHY IT MATTERSLifePoint Health will integrate Health Catalyst’s data operating system and analytics tools to gather performance metrics and drive improvements in healthcare quality, reporting and operational and financial decision-making.

By discovering and sharing clinical data, the partnership will help reduce variation in clinical outcomes. Health Catalyst’s tools dovetail with LifePoint’s national quality and facility recognition program goals to measurably improve patient care, safety and satisfaction as well as improve access and lower costs, according to the company.

In addition to the cloud-based data platform, LifePoint will use Health Catalyst’s analyzer, insights, AI, patient safety monitoring and data entry applications. The suite of tools can help increase organizational speed and interoperability, according to Health Catalyst.


While healthcare organizations are just beginning to scratch the surface of using data to drive improvements, according to Health Catalyst President Patrick Nelli, the company’s strategic acquisitions have provided them with the ability to customize software and services around core care systems.

One of them was its purchase earlier this year of KPI Ninja, whose event-driven data processing capabilities complement Health Catalyst’s own platform, enabling customers to build new services and operational tools around their core care systems.

LifePoint, meanwhile, has been making acquisitions of its own, such as its June 2021 addition of specialty hospital company Kindred Healthcare, with an eye toward a delivery network that taps into Kindred’s specialty hospital and rehabilitative expertise and its behavioral health platform.

ON THE RECORD“The Health Catalyst DOS platform, along with our technology product suites and applications, and improvement expertise, will best position LifePoint Health to achieve, sustain and scale the highest standards of care across its network,” said Health Catalyst CEO Dan Burton in a statement this week.

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.Email: afox@himss.orgHealthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.


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Fifteen Months for Domestic Worker Who Stole Jewellery




On Thursday, a Palma court sentenced a domestic worker to fifteen months for the theft of jewellery from her employer, a woman in her eighties.

Between 2015 and the end of 2020, the 45-year-old Chilean worked two days a week at the woman’s home in Sa Indioteria, Palma. Over that period, she stole various items of jewellery. The woman only realised this at the end of 2020, which was when she reported the matter to the National Police.

The police established that these items, which included watches, rings and bracelets, were sold in gold-buying establishments in Palma. The woman later verified that these were hers. As well as the jewellery, a hearing aid was stolen.

In January 2021, the domestic worker was arrested. Described as being in an “irregular situation” in Spain, her lawyer obtained agreement for the sentence to be suspended so long as a sum of 10,700 euros is paid over three years, at a rate of 297 euros per month, and she does not commit another crime during this period.


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