Telehealth Programs

Telehealth is especially critical in rural and other remote areas that lack sufficient health care services, including specialty care.

The Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT) promotes the use of telehealth technologies for health care delivery, education, and health information services.

Telehealth is defined as the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include video conferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.

OAT provides funds to promote and improve telehealth services in rural areas, including:

TNGP is a competitive grant program funding projects that demonstrate the use of telehealth networks to improve healthcare services for medically underserved populations in urban, rural, and frontier communities. More specifically, the networks can be used to:

  • Expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of health care services;
  • Improve and expand the training of health care providers; and/or
  • Expand and improve the quality of health information available to health care providers, patients, and their families.

The primary objective of the TNGP is to help communities build the human, technical, and financial capacity to develop sustainable telehealth programs and networks.

The TRC program awards competitive grants that support the establishment and continued operation of resource centers to assist health care organizations, networks, and health care providers in implementing cost-effective telehealth programs to serve rural and medically underserved areas and populations.

OAT supports 12 Regional TRCs and two National TRCs, one focusing on policy and the other on technology.

The EB TNGP is a competitive grant program designed to support implementation and evaluation of broad telehealth networks to deliver 24-hour emergency department consultation services via telehealth to rural providers that lack emergency care specialists.

The EB TNGP supports a range of Tele-Emergency care programs that track a significant volume of patient encounters to facilitate detailed analysis of patient outcomes in rural areas.

The RVHAP provides funding to enhance mental health services for veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, including:

  • Crisis intervention and diagnostic assessments;
  • Detection of post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Traumatic brain injury; and
  • Other mental health conditions associated with veterans.

To deliver services to veterans in rural areas, RVHAP focuses on regional approaches, including networks, health information exchange, telehealth, and/or telemedicine.

The LPGP awards competitive grants to state professional licensing boards to develop and implement state policies that will reduce statutory and regulatory barriers to telemedicine.

Supports established telehealth networks in the delivery of social services such as early childhood development counseling, food and nutrition support and job counseling to rural areas.

Resources for Telehealth

Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) exit disclaimer icon FORHP supports TRCs, which provide assistance, education and information to organizations and individuals who are actively providing or interested in providing medical care in remote areas. 

Profiles of OAT Grantees, 2013-2014 provides an overview of the 36 telehealth and telemedicine projects administered during this period. 

The Role of Telehealth in an Evolving Health Care Environment exit disclaimer icon is a FORHP-commissioned report from the Institutes of Medicine on how telehealth technology can fit into the U.S. health care system.

Last Reviewed: November 2015