June 10, 2020 | Sustaining Oregon’s Telehealth Gains Through COVID-19 and Beyond

COVID-19 drove a meteoric rise in clinics offering telehealth services, with many success stories around the state. Maintaining this progress will be critical as Medicaid enrollment grows and state budgets shrink. Policy changes and improved connectivity are needed to sustain higher levels of telehealth utilization. Explore the future of telehealth in Oregon with our expert panel.


Lori Laubach, CHC, has been dedicated to the health care industry since 1990 and has participated in consulting engagements for the private sector and not-for-profit organizations. Lori’s roles with clients include project manager for regulatory compliance monitoring of integrated hospitals, multispecialty clinics, single-specialty clinics, and mental and community health centers. She also assisted clients with the design, implementation, and monitoring of their regulatory compliance plan and development of their annual work plans — including the design and implementation of compliance requirements and operationalization of telehealth.

Lori Laubach can be reached at: lori.laubach@mossadams.com


Abby Sears, CEO of OCHIN, is responsible for the overall strategy and executive leadership at OCHIN. Abby has been with OCHIN since its inception and has helped grow the organization nationally, working to transform health care. By leveraging technology, data services, and the use of practice-based research, her work at OCHIN addresses differences in health that are systemic, avoidable, and unjust, to ensure all individuals have access to the best care. A prominent speaker and HIT advisor with over 20 years of healthcare expertise, she is a member of many regional and national boards, including an appointment to the ONC Health Information Technology Advisory Committee.

Abby Sears can be reached at: searsa@ochin.org

Dr. Stella Dantas, Associate Medical Director, Ambulatory and Convenient Care, is an obstetrician/gynecologist who has worked at Northwest Permanente since 2001. Dr. Dantas spent her college breaks from UC Berkeley working as a clerk, receptionist, or secretary in the Beaverton Clinic and at Bess Kaiser Hospital (where she was born!). Dr. Dantas has served as the OB/Gyn department hospital lead for Kaiser Permanente at Providence St. Vincent, as the clinic OB/Gyn lead at both Kaiser Permanente Westside and the Beaverton Clinic and as the OB/Gyn residency site director and medical student coordinator. Most recently she held the leadership role of Specialty Care Director of Operations. She is an active member of the American Congress and College of Obstetrics. With her work both in and outside NWP, she is a team-builder, a great listener, and a mindful leader and colleague imbued with positive and “can-do” attitude.

Dr. Dantas can be reached at: Stella.M.Dantas@kp.org

Max Janasik, CEO, joined One Community Health in August 2019. Prior to joining One Community Health, Max spent 10 years at Cambia Health Solutions, where he served as vice president of innovation. Max helped promote a culture of innovation through intrapreneurship and led co-innovation for the 5,000-person health solutions company. He comes to One Community Health with significant business, technology and consulting experience, including new business creation, product design and delivery, market entry and business development. Prior to his innovation role at Cambia, Max served as director of eBusiness for Regence BlueCross BlueShield. Before shifting into healthcare, Max worked in online banking and payments product management for what are now Fiserv companies, and he provided supply chain and business consulting services with Arthur Andersen. As CEO at One Community Health, Max has made a commitment to further our mission of advancing health and social justice for all through, among other things, that crucial lens of innovation.

Max Janasik can be reached at: mjanasik@onecommunityhealth.org

Rep. Pam Marsh (D), was first elected to House District 5 in southern Oregon in November 2016 and reelected to a second term in 2018. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Revenue, Co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on General Government, and as a member of the House Committee on Economic Development, the House Committee on Housing, and the Joint Committee on Information Management and Technology. She is a member of the State Broadband Advisory Council (OBAC) and the Oregon Retirement Savings Board. Her membership on OBAC and experience managing a business in a rural area has motivated Pam’s efforts to close the  digital divide and provide internet access to all Oregonians.

Rep. Marsh can be reached at: Rep.PamMarsh@oregonlegislature.gov

Rep. Rachel Prusak (D) has over 20 years invested in nursing across a multitude of settings including the last 12 years as a family nurse practitioner. She currently works for Housecall Providers where she provides primary care, palliative care and hospice care to the homebound and chronically ill members of her community. She was previously an ambassador for the National Health Service Corps where she was dedicated to serving families in rural areas of the country with limited access to care. Rachel serves as vice chair of the Healthcare Committee and serves as a member of the Task Force on the Resolution of Adverse Healthcare Incidents where she brings her public health lens to the issues at hand. She is committed to addressing the barriers to our health care system and won’t stop until it is accessible to all. She chairs the ‘Access to Primary Care Work Group’ which will develop a set of policy considerations for the legislature in its effort to achieve universal access to adequate level of high-quality health care at an affordable cost. In 2018 she was outraged by politicians who tried to eliminate funding for the health care of more than a million Oregonians, so she fought to protect that health care, ran for office, and won her first race.

Rep. Prusak can be reached at: Rep.RachelPrusak@oregonlegislature.gov

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Panel: Telehealth Use Has Expanded But Access Remains A Problem

By Ben Botkin

The pandemic has expanded the use of  telehealth, but not everybody has equal access to the technology. Homeless and impoverished people often lack mobile devices, and patients in rural and frontier areas of Oregon have poor or no broadband access.

A panel of five experts discussed this problem and the impact that the expanded use of telehealth has had on health care on Wednesday in a forum sponsored by the Oregon Health Forum, an affiliate of The Lund Report. The virtual event had nearly 500 attendees.

Telehealth use increased across-the-board as providers looked for ways to serve more patients and keep them safe during the pandemic, they said.

Now, providers want to build on that.

“It’s clear that we need to keep up on the momentum,” said Abby Sears, chief executive officer of OCHIN, a Portland-based nonprofit health care innovation center.

To do that they need to increase patient access and receive adequate reimbursement for visits, Sears said.

The federal government has stepped up efforts to fund telehealth services. The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday announced $20 million in grants to 67 different providers for telehealth services, including two in Oregon. Portland-based Volunteers of America Oregon will receive $740,513 for a telehealth platform, laptop computers, videoconferencing equipment and software and network upgrades. Providers will use it in work with patients on substance use, mental health, and behavioral health issues.

Prism Health in Portland will receive $28,131 for video conferencing software licenses and equipment for telehealth visits. Prism Health serves  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer patients as an extension of the Cascade AIDS Project,

Telehealth has advantages beyond convenience, said Max Janasik, chief executive officer of One Community Health of Hood River, a federally qualified health center.

“A physician can have a window into a home,” he said.

Janasik gave an example of how a physician can observe a patient perform everyday activities and help organize medications.

Dr. Stella Dantas, associate medical director of ambulatory and convenient care at Kaiser Permanente, said people with young children or caregivers for the elderly are appreciative of telehealth.

Dantas said patients have found telehealth can help them during a variety of settings, including primary care and chronic conditions.

But challenges remain.  Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, said broadband access in rural areas is nonexistent. Others cannot afford to pay for the technology.

“While some of us are equipped with broadband that will enable us to cruise into the future, a significant number of Oregonians are falling behind,” Marsh said.

Rep. Rachel Prusak, D-Tualatin/West Linn and a family nurse practitioner, said the pandemic has focused attention on pay parity for providers who offer telehealth. Before the pandemic, there was less openness to those conversations, Prusak said.

“If there is a silver lining, it has pulled the curtain back on a lot of injustice out there,” Prusak said.

Prusak said it’s critical for providers and patients to have pay parity in the long-term future, including during disasters. Pay parity gives providers a similar reimbursement for telehealth care without requiring an in-person patient visit.

“Right now, it’s COVID-19, but we will have earthquakes, we will have fires and we need to make sure at all times providers can see patients,” Prusak said.

Prusak added: “We need this tool in our toolbelt for everyone.”
The event moderator was Lori Laubach, practice partner at Moss Adams LLP, an accounting and consulting firm that works in the health care industry and other sectors.

You can reach Ben Botkin at ben@thelundreport.org or via Twitter @BenBotkin1.

News Source: The Lund Report