Telehealth in Libraries

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a growing interest across the nation to explore the role of libraries in telehealth. As part of this movement, the Idaho Commission for Libraries has launched it’s Telehealth in Libraries initiative. This landing page serves as a central hub where libraries and community partners can locate various components and projects under our initiative. This page will continue to grow with resources and opportunities as our initiative takes off, so please check back throughout the year.

About our Initiative

Due to the rural nature of Idaho, many communities lack sufficient medical and mental health care services to meet the needs of their residents. For many rural Idahoans, accessing these services requires long wait times for a local provider (if they exist) or traveling a long distance both ways to reach a clinic or hospital. Vulnerable populations such as the elderly or disabled, have additional hurdles seeking health care due to lack of independence and capabilities to transport themselves to appointments.  These barriers can ultimately lead some Idaho residents to choose not to seek services like mental health care, preventative check-ups, or support for managing chronic conditions like diabetes.

Connecting patients and doctors through telehealth is one way to overcome these barriers. However, while some patients may be able to access telehealth services from their home, others may lack sufficient internet speeds, may not have appropriate devices, may not have good enough digital literacy skills, or may lack privacy or a quiet space within their home. Libraries can help bridge this gap by providing a safe, private, reliable location to access telehealth services with staff who can help patients use the technology. As highly-trusted and well-connected institutions within their community, libraries are a perfect place to build or expand a community’s telehealth infrastructure.

The Idaho Commission for Libraries is working across the state with a variety of partners to build a solid foundation for telehealth in libraries. Our current projects include the Telehealth Trailblazer’s pilot project funded by the Blue Cross Foundation for Health, as well as the Upgrade Your Space project in partnership with the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare. In addition to these projects, the ICfL is undertaking the following broad activities to support this initiative:

  • Create a strong network of community partners across a variety of sectors to support and sustain the initiative, including government, nonprofit, and healthcare.
  • Explore and develop a variety of models for implementing telehealth in libraries, to suit a variety of communities and libraries.
  • Invest in the physical infrastructure of libraries to create private, digitally-enabled telehealth spaces in their communities.
  • Develop the skills and knowledge of ICfL staff to provide consultation and technical assistance to Idaho libraries around telehealth projects.

We welcome anyone with an interest in this project to reach out to us. We’d love to talk to you about any or all of the above activities and how you or your organization can get involved. For more information, please contact Amelia Valasek at amelia.valasek@libraries.idaho.gov.

Monthly Roundtable and List Serve

Monthly Roundtable Information

As Idaho’s telehealth in libraries initiative continues to grow, more libraries are starting to think about, plan for, and implement telehealth spaces in their buildings. In order to support this growing group of libraries, the ICfL will be hosting an informal, monthly online discussion roundtable and drop-in office hours. We hope you can join us!

  • The roundtable will take place on the first Thursday of each month at 2pm MT/1pm PT.
  • Details for accessing the meeting are posted on our events calendar. Open the event for each month to get the zoom link and other information about that month’s roundtable:  https://libraries.idaho.gov/events/tag/telehealth/

Or, if you’d prefer, you can reach out directly to the project lead who can get you connected. Contact Amelia Valasek at (208) 639-4138 or amelia.valasek@libraries.idaho.gov.

The purpose of this casual monthly meeting is to facilitate networking and cross sharing amongst libraries and to provide a standing opportunity to check in with ICfL staff for technical assistance and support. There is no formal agenda, and we’ll chat with whoever shows up! On occasion, we may also have guest speakers and experts from the healthcare world in attendance as well. Updates on specific guests and topics will be sent out as needed via the libidaho list serve, and updated on our event calendar.

All types of libraries are welcome to attend at any stage of their telehealth journey, from those exploring if telehealth is a good fit for their library, to those who have fully functional telehealth programs up and running. This event is completely optional and is not affiliated with any specific grant or funding opportunity. However, we encourage libraries who are participating in ICfL telehealth programs or grants to attend these sessions if they can.

Join Our Telehealth in Libraries List Serve

The ICfL has set up a list serve specifically for engaging around the topic of telehealth in libraries. Membership is open to library staff (all types of libraries welcome), as well as community partners who are interested in learning more about telehealth at libraries. Through this list serve, members can ask questions, share resources, and engage more deeply around telehealth in libraries with peers who are also interested in this topic. The ICfL will also use this list serve to send out specific resources and meeting follow-ups that may not be applicable to the wider library community.

We will continue to send general reminders about telehealth funding opportunities and events to the entire libidaho list serve to ensure no one misses out.

To sign up for the library telehealth list serve, follow these steps:

  • Send an initial email to: IdahoTeleHealthLibraries+subscribe@icfl.groups.io (the content and subject line of the email don’t matter, you can even leave them blank if you’d like)
  • You will receive an automatic response asking you to reply in order to verify your interest in the group and to complete your subscription.
  • You will automatically receive a couple of welcome emails directly from the ICfL’s groups.io account with information and rules for using our list serves. Please review and save these.
  • An ICfL admin must approve you request to join the telehealth group. Once your request has been approved you will receive a specific welcome email for the telehealth group with instructions on how to send messages to the group.
  • If your identity or professional affiliation is not apparent from your email address, someone from the ICfL may reach out to you prior to approving your subscription to the telehealth group in order to verify your connection to the library or telehealth fields.

Participating Libraries

The Telehealth in Libraries initiative is still fairly new, but we do have several libraries who currently offer telehealth services or who are working toward offering telehealth services in the near future. If you are a library who is offering this option and would like to be added to the list, please contact Amelia Valasek at amelia.valasek@libraries.idaho.gov. We will continue to update this list as the project grows.

Patrons, patients and healthcare providers are encouraged to reach out to these libraries directly to learn more about their telehealth spaces, discuss possible partnerships, and even schedule the space for use. The ICfL is also happy to facilitate connections with these and other local libraries for potential partnerships, so feel free to reach out to us as well and we can help you get in touch.

In alphabetical order by location (List Updated on 1/23/2023)

  • Ammon – Bonneville County Library – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Boise – Boise Public Library (Downtown Branch) – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Boise/Kuna – Ada Community Library (Victory Branch) – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Caldwell – Caldwell Public Library – Funded in second round of Blue Cross Foundation for Health, Telehealth Trailblazer’s grant (2022)
  • Challis – Challis Public Library – Funded in second round of Blue Cross Foundation for Health, Telehealth Trailblazer’s grant (2022)
  • Culdesac – Prairie River Library District – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Hailey – Hailey Public Library – Funded in second round of Blue Cross Foundation for Health, Telehealth Trailblazer’s grant (2022)
  • Idaho Falls – Bonneville County Library – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Jerome – Jerome Public Library – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Kamiah – Prairie River Library District – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Lapwai – Prairie River Library District – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Mountain Home – Mountain Home Public Library – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • New Meadows – Meadows Valley Public Library – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Orofino – Clearwater Memorial Library – Funded in first round of Blue Cross Foundation for Health pilot grant (2021)
  • Parma – Patricia Romanko Memorial Library – Funded in second round of Blue Cross Foundation for Health, Telehealth Trailblazer’s grant (2022)
  • Payette – Payette Public Library – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Salmon – Salmon Public Library – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)
  • Weippe – Clearwater County District Library – Funded in first round of Blue Cross Foundation for Health pilot grant (2021)
  • Winchester – Prairie River Library District – Upgrade Your Space with Health & Welfare, Round 1 (Spring 2023)

Upgrade Your Space with Help from the Department of Health & Welfare

Construction crane lifting large letters that form the words The Idaho Commission for Libraries is partnering with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) to help libraries create private, digitally enhanced spaces that can be used for telehealth. These spaces can also be used for other purposes when not in use for telehealth services. The DHW will be investing $500,000 over the course of two years into Idaho’s public libraries, and there will be multiple opportunities to apply. We will support as many libraries as funds allow. The DHW will also provide ongoing technical assistance, logistical support, and training for participating libraries.

Read on for additional details. A link to the application appears at the end of this section.

Basic Details

This is not a grant, and selected libraries will not be required to receive, manage, or expend any funds. Libraries will submit a very basic application, and we will support as many libraries as funding will allow. Participating libraries will choose their preferred equipment and technology from a standardized list. The DHW will then work with a vendor(s) to purchase all of the equipment and items through a bidding process and coordinate the delivery and installation of equipment directly with each library.

Libraries will receive equipment to create a private space within their building. Options are available to suit a variety of library sizes and situations and will include either a stand-alone privacy pod, or portable room dividers. Libraries may also request technology to equip their spaces, including computers, cameras, monitors, and ring lights. Please note that the final products provided to participants will be dependent on which vendor DHW selects to fulfill their bid request.

Please review the product spec sheet and terms & condition information below for more details about available options and to determine if this project will be a good fit for your library. (NOTE – Cubicle walls will not be an option for Round 2).

If you are interested in participating in this project, but the sizes or scope of the equipment currently available doesn’t meet your needs, we’d still like to hear from you. Please let us know if a different size or option would work better for you in the open-ended question at the end of the application. Or you can reach out to Amelia to discuss options: amelia.valasek@libraries.idaho.gov

Eligibility

This opportunity is open to public and tribal libraries located in the state of Idaho. Although this is not a competitive application, the project will prioritize libraries serving rural communities with populations under 50,000 that are not part of a contiguous metropolitan area. However, libraries serving larger communities, significant marginalized populations, or those who are functionally rural but lie within a larger metro area may also be considered. Round 3 of the project will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis until the remainder of project funds are allocated, or until March 1, 2024 (whichever occurs first). If we receive more applications than we can accommodate, we will prioritize selection to those libraries who serve smaller and more rural communities, as well as libraries who fall in healthcare “deserts.” If you previously applied for this program and were not able to participate, we encourage you to apply again. All libraries will receive notification as to whether they have been selected.

Application Instructions

The application for the project is brief and simple. No narrative to write, no need statement to research, no budget to fill out. Libraries will be asked to complete three questions: (1) indicate the size of the community they serve, (2) select their preferred option of either a privacy pod, or movable room divider, and (3) indicate which items from a list of technology they would like to receive. There is also an open-ended response field for any additional information or questions you’d like to include with your application. Finally libraries will be asked to agree to the terms and conditions of the project. We will accept as many libraries as possible in each round.

Timeline

Round 3 of this project will operate on a first-come, first-served basis through March 1, 2024, or until all remaining funds are allocated. For those libraries requesting a privacy pod, we encourage you to check with your board, city inspector, and other entities as appropriate to determine if this option meets your safety and building code requirements prior to submitting your application. Once libraries are selected and notified, it will take between two and five months for delivery of equipment. The DHW will be in regular contact with participating libraries regarding the status and delivery date of their equipment.

Round 3 Timeline:

  • Application Release: December 7, 2023
  • Application Due: No later than March 1, 2024. Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis during Round 3.
  • Selection and Notification: Within one week of submitting application.
  • Equipment delivery: estimated Spring/Summer 2024 (may be sooner)

Application – Open until March 1, 2024

The application period for Round 3 will open on December 4, 2023. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this program, feel free to reach out to Amelia Valasek at (208) 639-4138 or amelia.valasek@libraries.idaho.gov

Amelia Valasek

Amelia Valasek

Partnerships and Programs Supervisor
Email / 208-639-4138
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