Barriers to Telehealth Use for Children with Special Health Care Needs

CCHP’s collaborative project examined how telehealth can overcome the many challenges that children with special health care needs face in accessing adequate care.

Telehealth-delivered care offers a variety of solutions to increase access to services for children with special health care needs (CSHCN), such as increased coordination between families and providers to manage conditions, reduce costs associated with traveling to various appointments, and less missed school and work hours. However, confusing policy barriers have led to low telehealth adoption levels among CSHCN providers, thus limiting access to needed specialty care in some instances.

With funding from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, CCHP collaborated with The Children’s Partnership and the University of California at Davis to clarify the existing policy barriers to telehealth use for children with special health care needs.

The findings revealed that the following barriers have stifled telehealth adoption for this key population:

  • Providers’ lack of knowledge about and/or how to use and bill for telehealth
  • Families’ lack of knowledge about the option to use telehealth
  • Lack of a mechanism for providers to bill for some services delivered through telehealth
  • Concerns by providers related to the costs and maintenance of telehealth equipment
  • Concerns related to ensuring patient privacy

The resulting issue brief, titled Realizing the Promise of Telehealth for Children with Special Health Care Needs outlined a number of recommendations to overcome these barriers including the following:

  • Provide comprehensive telehealth information to providers
  • Facilitate efforts to educate families about telehealth as an option for care
  • Expand the Medi-Cal list of eligible billing codes for telehealth
  • Expand locations eligible for telehealth payment to include the patient’s home in Medi-Cal and CA Children’s Services (CCS)
  • Expand the number of telehealth modalities that are reimbursed by Medi-Cal and the CCS program
  • Convene a telehealth stakeholder workgroup
  • Implement local demonstration projects to identify best practices

To learn more about the project, see the full issue brief.