Health center utilization of telehealth advanced in leaps and bounds since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. In 2019, fewer than 500,000 visits in health centers nationwide were provided via telehealth, and in 2020, over 28 million visits were conducted virtually as reported in the Uniform Data System (UDS).1
Massachusetts leadership and learning in telehealth have been a collaborative effort between Community Care Cooperative (C3) and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers that together formed the FQHC Telehealth Consortium. In April 2020, the FQHC Telehealth Consortium began leadership calls with participating health centers to make progress on long-term telehealth strategy, with an initial focus on patient access and health center revenue. The FQHC Telehealth Consortium worked with Massachusetts health centers to develop a vision of telehealth maturity advancement and measurement specific to health centers, which, in turn, led to the development of a telehealth maturity model assessment tool to be applied across five domains.2 This tool was used to conduct interviews in telehealth maturity in summer/fall 2020 and again in summer/fall 2021. The key objectives of measuring telehealth maturity were to:
- Understand successes in implementation over the 18-month period from March 2020 through September 2021.
- Identify areas for continued development and refinement of telehealth models in health centers in order to sustain telehealth past the pandemic.
In 2021, interviews, using the maturity assessment tool, were conducted with health center leaders from each of 34 Masssachusetts health centers. The tool assesses telehealth advancement across the domains of strategy and leadership, clinical integration, people, technology, and reimbursement and policy. During the 34 interviews, themes emerged as to where health centers need to focus their efforts to advance, as well as best practices and recommendations. This resource summarizes those themes, organized by experience, what to do now, and next steps, within each of the five domains. The intent is for the experiences of Massachusetts health centers to inform others across the country.
1Health Center Program Uniform Data System (UDS) Data Overview
2 HITEQ Center - Assessing Telehealth Maturity in Health Centers: A report out on the progress of Massachusetts health centers in advancing telehealth during a pandemic
Download the resource in the Documents to Download Section below.