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July 2015 

Heartland Telehealth Resource Center is here to meet your telehealth needs. We are a government-sponsored organization with a wide range of services, and many of them are free. Email us at or call us at 877-643-HTRC.


Three things to love about Oklahoma Medicaid's expanded telehealth coverage


Starting September 1, Oklahoma Medicaid, also known as Sooner Care, will expand coverage of telemedicine thanks to the actions of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA).


Here are three things to love about the expanded coverage:

  1. Primary care coverage: For those in remote areas, even getting to a primary care physician can be a chore. Starting September 1, primary care is covered and even the initial visit can be done via telemedicine, as long as two-way, interactive videoconferencing is used. This telemedicine visit can be as easy as setting up a laptop or tablet for two-way interaction, and can be done using a secure, low-cost video conferencing service.
  2. No more geographical limitations: Telehealth is now open to urban, as well as rural residents. Recognizing that people in Tulsa, OKC and other cities also struggle to get to the doctor at times, OHCA decided to extend the coverage.
  3. Telehealth at home: Oklahomans covered by SoonerCare will be able to see doctors from the privacy and convenience of their own homes. In addition to individual residences, nursing homes and foster homes are also eligible sites. 

For details about billing, choosing a video-conferencing platform or to get started using telehealth in Oklahoma, contact Heartland Telehealth Resource Center at 877-643-HTRC. 


Webinar Series: Oklahoma Universal Services Fund

July 22

Designed for providers, this webinar will update you on recent changes to the Oklahoma Universal Services Fund, a program that provides funding for telemedicine connectivity in the state.  

The second in a series, this webinar will focus on how to sign up for FCC's Health Care Connect Fund, also for telehealth connectivity support.  



Kansas Foundation for Medical Care Quality Forum

July 31

Wichita, Kan.


Join us at the KFMC Quality Forum on July 31 at the Wichita Marriott. The event features a variety of speakers from clinical, administrative and executive healthcare backgrounds. "Each year this meeting brings together a broad range of professionals that have one thing in common, the desire to improve the delivery and quality of healthcare to Kansas citizens." -Ken Mishler, President & CEO of KFMC


2-3:30 p.m. HTRC leads a breakout session: Improving Access to Care: Integrating Telehealth into Your Organization. You won't want to miss it!


Focus on Telehealth Workshop

August 12
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Join us at the Focus on Telehealth conference on August 12 at the Oklahoma State Medical Association in Oklahoma City, Okla. Sponsored by the Telehealth Alliance of Oklahoma (TAO) and the Heartland Telehealth Resource Center (HTRC), this one-day event is open to administrators, physicians, nurses, mental health providers and clinical and legal staff. There will be two workshops: Focus on Clinical and Focus on Legal/Regulatory. Claim your spot before they are full!


Applications for continuing education credits have been filed with the Oklahoma Bar Association for continuing legal education; and the Oklahoma Nurses Association, an approved provider of continuing nursing education by the Texas Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation. Determination of credit is pending.






Rural cardiologist uses EKG smartphone app to increase capacity


As the only cardiologist living and practicing in Western Oklahoma, Dr. Nicholas Twidale is a busy man. Add to that an aging population in a county where more than one in five are uninsured and nearly one in four are Medicaid enrollees, and you have a recipe for a swamped cardiology practice.


But Twidale has found a way to use technology to increase his capacity and improve patient care using an app called AliveCor. The app, designed by Oklahoma physician Dr. David Albert, connects to smartphones and gives nearly instant results. Rather than sending patients to the hospital for a formal EKG and having to coordinate test results and follow-up visits, Twidale uses the app with some patients while they are in his office.


"You can transmit information to them in real time," said Twidale. "Often when you get information you have to track down the patient and notify them of what the findings on their EKG is. It's more difficult to get people back together to talk about the findings."



Missouri telehealth project lands state funding


Missouri just became one of the first states in the nation to receive state funding, totaling $1.5 million, to implement Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), a revolutionary use of telemedicine.  ECHO allows a panel of experts in population centers to mentor and share their expertise with primary care providers in outlying parts of the state using videoconferencing. 





Kansas works to connect special needs families to care

Key health care and government leaders met in Topeka, Kan. recently to launch a telehealth project to improve access to care for Kansas children with special health care needs (CSHCN). The National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs reported that 21 percent of Kansas CSHCN have health conditions that frequently affect their activities; yet 12 percent do not have access to the specific health care services they need for their condition.


Rural communities in Kansas still face challenges when it comes to access to care for CSHCN, who can face a host of mobility obstacles from feeding tubes to wheelchairs and conditions that make a "routine" trip to the doctor a stressful or painful event for children and parents. 


"This project is an opportunity to connect special needs children to providers, without the time, stress and expense of driving children long distances, often under uncomfortable circumstances," said Janine Gracy, HTRC project director, who serves on the leadership team to lend her telehealth experience. 




Medicare turns 50

This July, the Heartland Telehealth Resource Center (HTRC) salutes Medicare and Medicaid on its 50th anniversary. First signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 30th 1965, Medicare has served as a vital part of our health care system ever since. However, it wasn't until 2000 that the Medicare reimbursement policy underwent the changes necessary to make telehealth a standard of care.


The telehealth reimbursement overhaul was passed as part of the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000. This new law covered both direct patient care and consultations and also expanded the definition of origin sites to include doctors' offices, hospitals, critical access hospitals, rural health clinics and FQHCs. But perhaps the most important change was to extend coverage to rural health professional shortage areas to help the rural Medicare population access specialists, who disproportionally practice in cities.


More on the origin of modern Medicaid reimbursement. 


According to Janine Gracy, HTRC project director, Medicare coverage of telehealth in rural areas has improved health care access.  





New proposed Medicare rules

CMS recently released its proposed Medicare rules for 2016. The proposed rules would add a telehealth CPT code for prolonged inpatient services and end stage renal disease. Additionally, the rules would add certified registered nurse anesthetists as covered telehealth providers. The proposal is open for public comment through August. 


Oklahoma telemedicine leader retires

All of us at HTRC extend our heartfelt congratulations to Oklahoma HTRC partner, Candace Shaw, on her recent retirement and thank her for her 21 years of dedication to supporting telemedicine in Oklahoma.

Working as the director of the Center for Telemedicine at the University of Oklahoma since 1997, Shaw has guided and shaped the telehealth community. She led the effort to improve statewide telehealth policies, successfully increasing access to clinical services in rural and underserved areas of Oklahoma. In 2010, she helped establish the HTRC and served the past nine years as Oklahoma's state director.


To further promote telehealth access and strengthen partnerships, Shaw co-founded the Telehealth Alliance of Oklahoma (TAO) in 2013. As a non-profit organization, TAO provides technical assistance and education to health care providers to increase telemedicine adoption in underserved areas of Oklahoma.




Increasingly, nurses are taking the lead on telehealth and mHealth technology at their organizations. Join HTRC to learn how nurses are using tech to heal patients and check out #NurseTechMonday. The hashtag will be featured on Twitter each Monday. Follow @HeartlandTRC or use #NurseTechMonday to join the conversation!

Check your inbox in August for Telehealth Beat, our monthly telehealth news bulletin!  Got a story idea? Let us know! 
Heartland Telehealth Resource Center | | 
 4330 Shawnee Mission Parkway   Fairway, KS 66205