Sept. 12, 2018
Federal grant spurs GOBHI telehealth expansion
Behavioral health organization awarded nearly $1 million
Eastern Oregon — In the era of smartphones and tablets, most patients still find themselves required to physically travel to clinics for health care services. However, behavioral health professionals in rural Oregon are looking to buck the trend.
A three-year federal grant has helped position Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc. to reduce the gap between patients and care by expanding telehealth services through GOBHI’s Community Mental Health Programs (CMHPS), and directly to patients’ homes.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) this month committed to GOBHI a total of $972,430 — effective from Sept. 1. 2018 to Aug. 31, 2021 — for “GOBHI Direct to Patient Tele-Behavioral Health Services.”
GOBHI will purchase and implement patient engagement software titled “Mend,” and make it available to its providers for use as part of their service delivery strategy, increasing outreach. Mend’s secure video connection can share files, send messages, and collect any forms, photos, or data
from a patient from a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
“The whole idea is connecting with patients wherever they are,” said Bonnie Thompson, GOBHI Director of Health System Improvements.
“In the health care system, we still require people to come to us. These days you can download a book or make a bank deposit through your phone or computer, yet people who are ill or struggling with health conditions are required to find transportation and travel to an office. We took a hard look at this problem and found a creative solution.”
Sites participating in the first year of GOBHI’s telehealth expansion include:
Center for Human Development, (Union County), Community Counseling Solutions (Gilliam, Grant, Morrow, and Wheeler Counties), Lake District Wellness Center (Lake County), Lifeways (Malheur, Umatilla Counties), Mid-Columbia Center for Living (Hood River, Sherman, and Wasco Counties), New Directions Northwest (Baker County), Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness (Wallowa County), and GOBHI’s direct services.
In the program’s second and third year, services will expand to additional CMHPs. While GOBHI’s providers have a history of using telehealth technology, this program will represent a significant expansion.
“We’re honored to take the lead on the project, keeping in mind that this is just the start,” said GOBHI CEO Kevin Campbell. “Nobody should feel isolated, or cut off from the help they need. Thankfully, telehealth opens a new range of innovative possibilities for reaching the population we serve.”
GOBHI staff will take preparatory steps this fall to launch the telehealth expansion.
This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $278,414. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.
Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc., headquartered in The Dalles, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that is a National Committee for Quality Assurance accredited Managed Behavioral Healthcare Organization and is charged with administering all or part of the behavioral health Medicaid benefit in 17 rural and frontier counties in Oregon. GOBHI is a co-owner of the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization.