Evidence-Based Telehealth Network Program: Baptist Health 

The Georgia Health Policy Center recently spoke to Shannon Gray, project director for the EB-TNP grant at the Behavioral Health Virtual Clinic at Baptist Health, which serves the western Kentucky region, about participation in the grant program. 

 

To date, what has been the biggest accomplishment of your telehealth program?  

We have been proud of getting to offer services to people in rural Kentucky that most likely would not have access to these services otherwise. Patients cannot always access treatment that they need because of transportation issues or maybe not having gas money. It is neat to be able to offer telehealth services, so no matter where they are, they can get these services. We have a team consisting of a therapist and a nurse practitioner that offer medication management and therapy.  

 

We have been able to expand services even from when the grant was written. We originally had planned to offer services to five patient sites, but now we are able to offer Behavioral Health services to eight patient sites in addition to our partnership with Stepworks. That partnership allows us to offer medication-assisted treatment, as well as peer support. Our service area also includes areas that were devastated by tornadoes. Many patients lost their homes, internet, and even their doctor’s offices were affected, but if they have their cell phone, they are able to access services.  

 

What is a tip you would share with an organization launching a similar telehealth program?  

One of the biggest hurdles with telehealth is understanding the challenges of human technology interface. It takes many people in many different departments to make a program work. It is important from the get-go to make sure that the whole team is on the same page for what the goals of the grant are, and to know who you need to pull in to not only make it work but to make it successful.  

 

How does participation in the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth’s grant program impact your broader health improvement efforts? 

There has always been a need for behavioral health, but this area has dealt with such a devastating loss with tornadoes that destroyed that area. With the grant, we have been able to continue to offer services to patients who need them more than ever. This grant really focuses on offering those behavioral health services to people who cannot get in the car and drive 10 minutes to that service. It is aimed at evening out the playing field and creating more access points for the patients.  

 

What will your organization be doing more of or differently to emerge stronger from the pandemic? 

Baptist Health was already doing telehealth before COVID. The pandemic put focus on telehealth and allowed us to escalate and improve what we were already doing. Baptist has been able to grow our telehealth programs substantially. If there was a barrier, we were able to bring resources together to break through it. COVID brought more awareness of the need for behavioral health services, and we have been able to work on breaking the stigma around behavioral health.  

 

Baptist Health is really focusing on integrating behavioral health into patient care when they are seen in primary care. Our behavioral health providers are able to connect with the primary care providers, through our electronic health records, which allows patient care to be more coherent. Baptist Health wants to focus on treating patients, as a whole. 

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