Washington, DC – June 8, 2021 - Today, Philips Healthcare and the eHealth Initiative and Foundation (eHI) released a report entitled Maturing Virtual Care in Tribal Communities. The report contains insights from an Executive Roundtable panel comprised of experts from the Indian Health Service (IHS), Lummi Tribal Health Center, Chinle Service Unit, and Philips Healthcare, and outlines the ongoing challenges of delivering telehealth in tribal communities.
The report addresses the digital health challenges faced by tribal communities, including existing data gaps, funding sources, and the digital divide. Although some 60-70 percent of health care services in tribal communities are telehealth visits, significant connectivity challenges exist in rural areas due to poor infrastructure for cell and internet services, in addition to lack of electricity and running water in many residences.
The report emphasizes the importance of unified coordination between federal IHS leaders and tribal leaders to disseminate information that could lead to better care delivery and outcomes. The report also shares best practices for telehealth services in rural areas, as well as provider innovations in the delivery of care.
Highlights include the expansion of telehealth services by bringing the patient to the internet; the introduction of mobile kiosks and iPads for curbside check-in; and the launch of the IHS Four Directions Hub pilot, which connects remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices to existing federal infrastructure.
“Overcoming barriers such as broadband access, digital literacy, and hesitancy are critical to ensuring all communities have equal access to healthcare,” said Jen Covich Bordenick, Chief Executive Officer of eHI.
For any additional inquiries, please contact Wanneh Dixon.