BroadbandOhio, a division of the Ohio Department of Development, selected OCHIN as its statewide telehealth administrator to help expand healthcare services for Ohio’s K-12 students.
WHY IT MATTERS
The new initiative aims to help administrators in at least 10 districts implement school telehealth programs.
BroadbandOhio plans to establish a steering committee with other state agencies to oversee OCHIN’s efforts, according to the announcement.
The division’s previous school-based telehealth project pilots with the Switzerland of Ohio School District in Monroe County in 2020 and multiple districts in the Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center in 2021 provided nearly 22,000 students with telehealth services.
Through the programs, students could access counselors in real-time, sometimes in 60 seconds, said BroadbandOhio.
Those collaborations also involved InnovateOhio, the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Appalachian Children’s Coalition.
“Our children are our greatest asset, and we owe it to each and every one of them to provide the highest quality of consistent care possible – regardless of where they live or go to school,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development.
“This program will help us do just that.”
OCHIN, a nonprofit national provider network founded in 2000, supports access to care for systemically underserved communities at nearly 2,000 healthcare sites nationwide.
Jennifer Stoll, executive vice president of external affairs at OCHIN, said Ohio’s efforts to provide telehealth to children and teens will serve as a model for states nationwide.
THE LARGER TREND
Broadband and telehealth access go hand in hand.
Community broadband – networks owned by government entities, local utility co-ops, wireless internet service providers and other local ISPs and public-private partnerships often initiated by local governments – holds financial and quality-of-life benefits, according to Craig Settles, a community broadband and telehealth advocate and expert.
“There’s a lot of legwork and community needs analysis required, as well as much community stakeholder planning to make these visions a reality,” he wrote as a contributor to Healthcare IT News.
In November, he urged community coalitions involving public health and the healthcare sector to leverage $14 billion in federal funding through the Federal Communications Comission’s Affordable Connectivity Program to increase access to telehealth by increasing broadband access.
ON THE RECORD
“This represents another milestone in our efforts to expand broadband connectivity to more communities, in the most meaningful ways possible,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted in the statement.
“Simply put – this will remove some major barriers to access and give more of our students a direct line to the support they need, when they need it.”
Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.