ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland's Department of Health is launching a one-year pilot program aimed at supplying 375 behavioral health patients free WiFi equipped smartphones and tablets, to allow virtual visits with healthcare providers.
The program is being funded by a $1.5 million block grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Initially it will cover select pre-approved providers in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s and Wicomico Counties.
Those providers will receive funding to purchase and maintain electronic equipment that is HIPAA-compliant.
The provider will then decide which patients to loan a device to, based on need or other factors including transportation and childcare.
"Since the onset of the pandemic, telehealth has become integral but it is still out of reach for many of the people who need it most,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “Our goal is to provide telehealth support to every Marylander, and that includes our most vulnerable patients, to help ensure health care continuity and better outcomes for all.”
Most adults will be loaned a smartphone, with children and adolescents getting tablets. Each patient issued a device will be trained on how to use it.