Federal grants fund virtual health services in underserved communities

Feb. 15, 2022

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded nearly $55 million to 29 health centers to increase access to virtual care for underserved populations, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The awards provide money to develop telehealth options, remote patient monitoring, digital patient tools, and health information technology platforms.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, health centers have reported growth in the number of virtual visits from 478,333 in 2019 to 28,550,608 in 2020. The number of health centers offering virtual visits grew from 592 in 2019 to 1,362 in 2022, an increase of 130%.

“Today’s awards will help ensure that new ways to deliver primary care are reaching the communities that need it most,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Our funding will help health centers continue to expand their virtual work while maintaining their vital in-person services in communities across the country.”

The more than 1,400 HRSA-supported health centers provide medical, dental, and behavioral health services to nearly 29 million patients each year. As of late January, the health centers had delivered over 19.2 million vaccine doses, with 68% going to racial or ethnic minority patients. More than 90% of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (about $55,000 per year for a family of four in most states) and approximately 62% are racial/ethnic minorities.

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