How an FQHC uses telehealth for primary care, behavioral health, and addiction treatment

Harbor Care Health and Wellness Center in Nashua, New Hampshire, provides primary care, behavioral health, and dental services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Harbor Care Health is a Federally Qualified Community Center. FQHC was established to provide affordable medical services to people in need, regardless of their ability to pay.


Not for profit, investing in information technology is sometimes challenging, said Henry Och, chief executive officer. Maintaining core IT services and developing cutting-edge technologies is difficult with a small tech budget, he added.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic raged in early 2020, we put a tremendous amount of pressure on our already overstretched technology infrastructure,” he recalls. “Also, even in the absence of COVID-19, our patient numbers may be fleeting and keeping them in regular care is difficult, posing many risks to our overall health.” surname.

“Technology can help address that challenge by leveraging mobile and web-based platforms to provide access to our patient care teams,” he continued. “We quickly deployed a number of telemedicine solutions, including and Zoom, to establish multiple communication channels for our patients.”


These telemedicine products rely heavily on Internet connections. Harbor Care Health’s network infrastructure needs significant improvements to handle the needs of mobile devices, computing devices, and server traffic.

In addition, current telecommunications technology is not designed to take advantage of contemporary, unified communication platforms.

“As we developed our proposal and project plan, we identified our network plumbing that needed to be addressed as we increased use of telehealth services,” explains Och. “We’ve upgraded our point-to-point, internet and VoIP systems.

He added: “We have integrated the new web-based VoIP system from WildIx with our Office 365 platform. “The tight integration with all of our communications systems allows us to deliver remote services in a consistent and high-performance manner.”

The workforce also benefits from investments, as their members can now effective regardless of its location. Telehealth – and employee communications – is quickly becoming a core element of service delivery.


There are many providers of telemedicine technology and services in today’s medical IT market. IT news about healthcare published a special report highlighting many of these vendors with detailed descriptions of their products. Click here to read the special report.


As Harbor Care Health deploys telemedicine technologies, it needs to provide training for both staff and patients. Those are the two largest stakeholder groups.

“We used a telehealth solution to provide services to adults and children,” says Och. “Those services include primary care, behavioral health, and addiction treatment. The delivery of behavioral health and addiction treatment via telehealth has made a huge impact on our patients’ lives when uncover the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Telehealth services are now part of the service provider organization’s service delivery model.

“In calendar year 2021, we delivered 15,207 virtual visits, while in 2019 we didn’t,” Och reported. “In 2019, we treated 3,194 patients. In 2020, that number drops to 2,573 patients. By increasing access to care via telehealth and adjusting operations, we increased access to 2,681 patients.

“We have not yet regained our pre-pandemic position,” he continued. “However, with continued use of technology and innovative solutions, we are confident we will continue to provide access to high-quality care.”


Harbor Care Health and Wellness Center was awarded $801,768 from the FCC’s telemedicine program to acquire computers and telecommunications equipment and add improvements to networking and cybersecurity to provide enhanced telehealth services to patients, 75% of whom self-identify as homeless.

“We have been using FCC telehealth award funds to ensure the technology that powers our healthcare professionals and support staff can meet the needs of our patients,” said Och. “We have upgraded infrastructure, end-user equipment and treatment rooms.

“One of the concepts we have implemented is telehealth phone booths,” he concludes. “These zones can be used by our staff to connect patients with their providers, no matter where the provider is located. We hope to use this platform to connect virtually. patients with their specialty providers or other health care professionals.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.


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