Category Archives: Health Care Providers

Colorado lawmakers advance bill to spread telehealth across state

Getting medical help for many people in rural communities is quite the challenge. “The House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee approved a bill that would expand a current law supporting telemedicine” which can bring health care to the fingertips of people who do not have direct access to a doctor. You can read the full article here or below.

DENVER AND THE WEST

Colorado lawmakers advance bill to spread telehealth across state

By Electa Draper
The Denver Post

POSTED:   01/22/2015 04:46:27 PM MST2 COMMENTS| UPDATED:   5 DAYS AGO

 

Doctors in the NICU unit at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children use telemedicine to video conference with doctors in rural and remote areas, such as

Doctors in the NICU unit at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children use telemedicine to video conference with doctors in rural and remote areas, such as Vail, Colo., helping with medical advice and administering care in some cases. ( Kathryn Scott Osler, Denver Post File )

A bill that would boost telemedicine in Colorado by preventing health insurance plans from requiring in-person care to patients when it can be appropriately provided remotely progressed to the House floor on a unanimous committee vote Thursday.

The House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee approved a bill that would expand a current law supporting telemedicine — care delivered via a computer, smartphone or other device — only for patients residing in counties with 150,000 or fewer residents.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, and Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, was amended to call it telehealth — a reflection, committee members said, of the broad array of services that can be delivered using telecommunications and other information technologies. They approved an amendment that would push back removal of the population restrictions starting Jan. 1, 2017, rather than 2016.

If passed, the bill would preclude health plans from requiring in-person care if consulting, monitoring and other care could be administered as effectively at a distance. It would prevent plans from reimbursing providers who deliver telehealth on a different basis than for in-person care. Health plans could not charge different deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance amounts or set different annual or lifetime dollar maximums.

Telehealth would lower costs and improve access to medical services and outcomes in urban and rural areas, said supporting witnesses, including representatives of the Colorado Hospital Association, Centura Health hospital network, Colorado Association of Health Plans, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Telehealth Network. No one spoke against it.

Electa Draper: 303-954-1276, edraper@denverpost.com or twitter.com/electadraper

Bridging Hospital and Community: Family Navigator program expands

Sam Murillo, Director of Navigation Programs
Sam Murillo, Director of Navigation Programs

Four years ago, Family Voices Colorado received funding from the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to start a pilot program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, in which a Family Voices staff member would be based at the hospital three days a week to help families navigate systems and connect with community resources. Sam Murillo was that Family Navigator for the first three years, laying the groundwork, helping hospital staff understand the unique gifts of the role, and working through challenges common to any pilot project.

Sam explains what makes family navigation unique:

Navigation is a unique service delivery model that serves as a natural bridge from the health care setting to the community. It extends traditional care coordination, case management and social work roles by providing training and education on the various medical and non-medical systems to families and hospital staff. Navigation also provides direct advocacy as appropriate and needed in resolving systemic barriers. Together, all of these methods create an approach that honors the principles of true family-centered care.”

As the hospital navigation program celebrates its four-year milestone this August, Sam finds himself in a new role, as Director of Navigation Programs. The pilot project was very successful, with the navigation program recognized as an effective service delivery model and highly valued as part of the Neurology and Child Health Clinic teams. Dr. Carolyn Green, a physician in the Neurology Clinic, explained in a 2012 survey of hospital staff regarding the program,

“Having Sam in the role of Navigator not only eases the mental burden for the families but improves my ability to provide excellent medical care. Often I am sure a family would benefit not only in a social or financial way but also in a medical way by having access to community based resources, like the epilepsy foundation, which provide disease and treatment information.  Although intentions are good to share that information, it is not feasible to cover all resource information during a visit. Often families need to process what they have been told at a visit before they are able to use some information and having a facilitator outside the visit time but inside the system is tremendous.”

And the project’s success is far more than anecdotal: in the four years since the Family Navigator program’s inception, the Neurology clinic reported a 32% decrease in emergency department utilization. In that same time period, the Family Navigator completed over 4,000 encounters with patients and families, on average seeing or talking with each patient/family about 20 times to connect them with the resources they need, to help them navigate systems and services, and to troubleshoot barriers and obstacles they encounter.

Thanks to Sam’s hard work and these highly promising results, the Family Navigator program has recently entered into a direct contract with Children’s Hospital Colorado, where a new Family Navigator, Colette Christen (who previously worked as the Resource & Systems Navigation Specialist, staffing our Provider Helpline), is now full-time in the Neurology Clinic, and Susana Herrera has moved into the role of Family Navigator for the Child Health Clinic. In addition, a separate grant has allowed the program to expand to Denver Health’s Special Needs Clinic.

Looking to the future, Sam has a vision of the growing, mutually beneficial relationship between Family Voices Colorado and health care providers serving families of young people with special health care needs:

“The navigation model not only amplifies the presence and awareness of Family Voices, but also increases the ability of specialty and primary care settings to meet the complex systemic needs of families. While FVC remains available to [hospitals] as a whole, many clinics have shown interest in creating a designated Family Navigator role as well. As we grow and build momentum, we are committed to an intentional planning process that will develop further infrastructure, standardization across environments, and best practice policies and procedures.”

Just one more way that Family Voices is making Colorado a better place for children and youth with special health care needs!

Increasing Medical Home Access

For nearly four years, Family Voices Colorado has served as a subcontractor with the Colorado  Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to assess and support a wide range of health care practices in becoming certified as medical homes.

A medical home is not a residential facility; it’s not even a building. Rather, it is an approach to health care that is comprehensive, coordinated, family- and patient-centered, accessible, and committed to quality and safety. (Learn more at the Colorado Medical Home Initiative.)

Sounds ideal, right? Like what you’d look for in a primary care office, regardless of your age or level of health care needs? And while every provider seeks to do their best in providing the kind of care that patients and families deserve, the medical home certification process helps by identifying specific benchmarks and practices that improve the quality of care and the patient experience, assessing both staff and family perspectives on how well those benchmarks are currently implemented, and then supporting the clinic or office or hospital department in taking steps to improve in areas that are assessed less positively.

Since 2009, Family Voices Colorado has helped certify more than 2,000 practices, from private family and pediatric practices to school-based clinics, federally qualified health centers, mental health providers, and more. In the course of that work, our staff have met tens of thousands families and thousands of providers; conducted and analyzed close to 32,000 family surveys and 20,000 staff surveys; and traveled more than 30,000 miles across the state!

Now that our contract has ended, we are moving into different approaches to our ongoing work of increasing access to and quality of health care for all children, especially those with special health care needs. Without wanting to be too mysterious, we’re not quite at liberty to describe the details of these new programs yet, but keep an eye out for some announcements in the next month or two!

Susana Herrera and Suzette Elledge, two of Family Voices Colorado's Medical Home certification staff
Susana Herrera and Suzette Elledge, two of Family Voices Colorado’s Medical Home certification staff

Tremendous thanks go to Suzette Elledge, our Medical Home Project Coordinator; Susana Herrera, Medical Home Navigator; Colleen Roahrig, Western Slope Coordinator; and other staff who have supported the program over the years. Together, they have helped make sure that more children across the state – both those with special health care needs and those with typical needs – have access to a medical home, which leads to both cost savings and improved health outcomes. Thank you for your commitment to this important work!

Making Colorado a better place for children and youth with special health care needs

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