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Indian Health Services Extends Telehealth Partnership

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   August 05, 2022

The Health and Human Services Department is continuing its contract with Avel eCare to provide telehealth services for roughly 150,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The Health and Human Services Department is extending its partnership with Avel eCare to deliver telehealth services to roughly 150,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The HHS' Indian Health Services launched a virtual care platform in 2017 with the South Dakota-based Avera Health network, with a contract to deliver specialty clinic services to reservations in Nebraska and the Dakotas. The project expanded to Montana and Wyoming in 2019 and was kept in place when Avera sold its telehealth services to Aquiline Capital Partners in 2021.

The program offers improved access to healthcare services for a population that is predominantly located in rural areas, where access is difficult, and whose life expectancy is 5.5 years less than the average.

“Telemedicine is one of the best ways to ensure vital access to quality healthcare in these remote, hard-to-reach tribal communities," Brian Erickson, vice president and general manager of behavioral health and specialty clinic at Avel eCare, said in a press release. "Before this, many tribal members would either travel hundreds of miles to see a doctor or forgo care altogether."

The new deal extends the partnership another five years and expands the services offered to include psychiatric support for emergency departments and sexual assault medical forensic exams (eSANE).

Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.

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