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.

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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.

  • Caldwell Public Library – Providing equipment on their outreach vehicle for mobile telehealth connections.
  • Challis Public Library – Installing a fully equipped privacy pod on site for telehealth appointments.
  • Clearwater Memorial Library (Orofino) – Dedicated telehealth space on site.
  • Clearwater District Library (Weippe) – Dedicated telehealth space on site.
  • Hailey Public Library – Converting existing meeting space into private area for telehealth appointments.
  • Patricia Romanko Library (Parma) – Converting old bank vault into private telehealth space
  • Ada Community Library (Victory Branch) – Currently exploring options to offer telehealth services.
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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 cubicle walls, or portable room dividers. If additional funds are available for each round, libraries may also receive computers, cameras, ring lights and other technology to equip the space. 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.

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 so we can consider this feedback in future rounds of this project. You can send your feedback to amelia.valasek@libraries.idaho.gov

Eligibility

The project is currently open to public libraries only. 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, or those who are functionally rural but lie within a larger metro area may also be considered. We will accept as many libraries as possible in each round of the project. 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.” Other applications will be retained for consideration in future rounds of the project. All libraries will receive notification as to whether they have been selected.

The application for the project will be released at the beginning of each round (see timeline below). The application itself will be 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, cubicle walls, or movable room divider, and (3) indicate which items from a list of technology they would like to receive. 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

This project will be rolled out in multiple rounds, depending on demand, and libraries will have multiple opportunities to participate. Libraries will have about 45 days after each round opens to submit their application. We encourage libraries to use this time to check with their board, city inspector, and other entities as appropriate when determining whether to apply. 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 1 Timeline:

  • Sneak peak and details released: mid-July, 2022
  • Application Release: August 15, 2022
  • Applicant Webinar: September 8 9:30 am MT (8:30 am PT) (click on link to event page for access to webinar recording)
  • Application Due: September 30, 2022
  • Selection and Notification: by October 13, 2022
  • Equipment delivery: January-February 2023 (may be sooner)

Application – Opens August 15th

Whew! You got through all the information and now you’re ready to apply! The good news is that the application is actually the easiest part. If you think this project is a good fit for your library, we encourage you to apply.

The application is quick and simple, but if you do have questions feel free to reach out to Amelia Valasek at amelia.valasek@libraries.idaho.gov. We will also be hosting an applicant webinar the morning of September 8th, which will include a Q&A session.

Click Here to Apply
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Amelia Valasek

Amelia Valasek

Partnerships and Programs Supervisor
Email / 208-639-4138
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