Historically, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) have used telehealth to address geographic, economic, transportation and language barriers to health care access. However, FQHCs existed in a policy environment that created numerous barriers to the full adoption of telehealth technologies. Adoption of telehealth by health centers exploded as a result of the Public Health Emergency (PHE). Policy changes opened the door for health centers to provide comprehensive services to patients through the use of digital tools.
The National Association of Community Health Centers in collaboration with the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers worked together on a pilot project to provide technical assistance to health centers who are determining how and if they will sustain telehealth operations and virtual modalities coming out of the PHE. One resource that was developed was the Environmental Scan of Telehealth Technical Assistance Resources for FQHCs: Curated list of top telehealth technical assistance resources for FQHCs in each of the following eight categories:
- The Digital Divide - access, broadband, equity
- Implementation & Operations - workflows, procedures, platforms
- Quality Assurance - measurement, data collection, improvement
- Data & Reporting - definitions, taxonomy, EHR alignment, reporting, systems/process
- Policy, Financial Reimbursement & Legal - advocacy efforts, regulatory surveillance
- Patient Engagement - patient education, navigation, outreach, technical support
- Clinical Delivery - clinician-focused services, CME/CEU, clinical skills, competencies
- Financial Models - balancing service & payer mixes, reimbursement implications
Following are a few highlighted resources from that document . To see all the resources, download the document!
Telehealth Policy, Financial Reimbursement and Legal Resources for FQHCs:
- FQHC Section in the CCHP Telehealth Policy Finder for each State: Learn about each State's specific policies that impact FQHCs.
- COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Billing - Revised August 16, 2022: Questions center around a wide variety of topics, but there is a section specific to FQHCs many of the questions relate to telehealth as well as virtual communication services.
- Additionally, CMS has an FQHC Resource Page
- CMS Medicare Learning Network:
- Booklet for Federally Qualified Health Centers - Revised October 2022: Provides guidance around Telehealth Services Payment, Virtual Communication Services as well as COVID-19 Flexibilities pertaining to payment.
- Mental Health Visits via Telecommunications for Rural Health Clinics & Federally Qualified Health Centers - Revised June 6, 2022: Provides guidance on regulatory changes and billing.
- New and Expanded Flexibilities for RHCs and FQHCs During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency - Revised January 13, 2022: Additional guidance from CMS. specific to the PHE.
- Telehealth and Health Center Scope of Project: Highlights relevant considerations for health centers i providing in-scope services through telehealth.
Have an FQHC telehealth billing question that you were unable to find in the above resources? Get Technical Assistance! Send emails regarding FQHC billing questions to: [email protected]
Telehealth Program Development Resources for FQHCs, most of which are also found in the Environmental Scan Resource Document!
- California TRC Sample Telehealth Sustainability Worksheet: This is a basic "calculator" tool to assist FQHCs with basic business model development using a model of purchasing blocks of time by the hour for specialty care or primary care providers.
- Experiences of Health Centers in Implementing Telehealth Visits for Underserved Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results from the Connected Care Accelerator Initiative: Research report by the RAND Corporation looking at utilization, impact on access to care, the experience of leadership and promising practices.
- FQHC Telehealth Resources Collection: Curated resources including videos, webinars, infographics and fact sheets specific to FQHCs. A few highlights from this collection include:
- Community Health Centers' Telehealth Promising Practices: Case Studies from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- Telehealth Optimization Quick Guide for Health Centers
- Strategic Investments in Telehealth and Digital Tools for Health Centers: Maintaining Your Competitive Advantage Beyond the Pandemic
- Telehealth and Virtual Services: A Guide for FQHCs and RHCs
- Recorded content from the three session FQHC Webinar Series:
- Health Center Resource Clearinghouse Telehealth Learning Bundle: Gain a background understanding of the changing telehealth landscape, learn about telehealth priority areas and access resources and tools.
- Health Center Resource Clearinghouse COVID-19 Resources - Telehealth: Curated collection of resources on telehealth.
- HITEQ Telehealth & Telemedicine Resources: Curated resources and tools on telehealth and telemedicine.
- School-Based Telehealth Playbook: This Playbook guides health centers through the design, implementation and operation of a telehealth program that meets the needs of children and adolescents.
- Telehealth Playbook: Developed by the FQHC Telehealth Consortium, this how to-to guide supports adoption and sustainability of telehealth at health centers.
Encounter a hot topics and want to have your questions answered? View details and register for NACHC Quarterly Telehealth Office Hours because you just might find your burning questions being addressed!
Telementoring and Clinical Support Resources for FQHCs:
- Weitzman ECHO: Community Health Center, Inc. was the first Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) to operate its own Project ECHO® clinics. Weitzman ECHO clinics are specifically designed to meet the needs of safety net primary care providers and their communities. CHC conducts Weitzman ECHO sessions for multiple specialties and provides nationwide access for individual health centers as well as larger entities.
- Safety Net Connect: In response to COVID-19, Safety Net Connect is offering primary care physicians free access to a dedicated eConsult platform providing electronic specialist triage and advice, often in less than 4 hours.
- ConferMED Coronavirus eConsults: Consult with experts to get answers to your clinical questions about COVID-19. This service is exclusively for primary care providers at safety net practices at no cost through ConferMED.
- ConferMED Specialty Care eConsults: With funding provided by the Quest Diagnostics Foundation, FQHCs in the Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Houston and Miama metro area can access this service free of charge.
- MAVEN Project: MAVEN Project uses telehealth to connect primary care providers from safety net clinics with expert physician volunteers for consultations, mentoring, and education. .