Elderly 70s man seated on sofa make distant video call with doctor

In early 2020, in response to an urgent need for expanded access to health care in Michigan, the Health Fund joined a collaborative funding effort that granted nearly $3 million in telehealth funding to 61 nonprofit healthcare clinics across the state. Through that support, over 2,200 health providers were trained to implement telehealth services and upwards of 200,000 Michigan residents were able to access virtual physical and behavioral care. We’re looking back at those awards now to see what lessons they hold as telehealth takes a permanent place in Michigan’s health landscape.

Some of our key takeaways:

  • Telehealth is here to stay. Though these projects filled an immediate need, they also responded to long-standing gaps, particularly for people in rural areas and those with limited access to transportation. We were thrilled to hear that 97% of funded clinics will continue to offer telehealth services indefinitely.
  • Clinics should find the tools and vendors that work best for them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to virtual services—clinics should prioritize their patients’ unique needs while paying attention to HIPAA compliance and electronic medical record (EMR) compatibility.
  • Everyone benefits from universal buy-in. Grant partners reporter that while adopting the new technology was a smoother transition for some providers than others, telehealth worked best when everyone involved received in-depth training and had the opportunity to provide feedback.

Our final report on the expedited funding collaborative shares more on these lessons, as well as barriers, best practices, and impact stories shared by the providers. Thanks to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Ethel & James Flinn Foundation, and the Metro Health Foundation for joining us in this collaborative effort.

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