The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has just released the Rural Action Plan, the first HHS-wide assessment of rural healthcare efforts in more than 18 years.
The 82-page report comes after President Trump’s executive order in August to improve rural health and telehealth access. It lays out a four-point plan intended to address challenges providing rural healthcare, including building a sustainable HHS model for rural communities; preventing disease and mortality; increasing rural access to care; and using technology and innovation.
The latter of these four initiatives includes wider support for telehealth, as well as funding for the development of technological solutions to help with chronic conditions. It also acknowledges that broadband access is a continuing concern for making use of health IT.
Specifically, the report highlights a number of projects and directives designed to boost telehealth, including:
- Grants, policy and regulatory efforts and research analyses will support rural tech and telehealth innovation initiatives.
- A health challenge that uses technology to improve screening and management of postpartum depression for rural women.
- HHS will provide more than $8 million in grant funding to boost telehealth expansion.
- About $30 million to expand the use of telehealth services to meet the needs of rural and medically underserved areas.
- Investment aimed at expanding eligibility to telehealth sites where the provider sees the patient at a distance more healthcare provider types.