Avera Receives $4.3 Million Helmsley Grant to Establish National Telehealth Certificate Program and Education Center

One of the nation’s leaders in telemedicine, Avera eCARE®, has received a $4.3 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to develop and launch a national telehealth certificate program. This first of its kind program aims to standardize and elevate the quality of care provided through telehealth platforms.

Physicians, advanced practice providers, medical residents and administrators will be able to earn a certificate in telehealth as a delivery model for health care as well as a specialty certificate for telebehavioral health. Earning this certificate will demonstrate that providers have completed training on how to provide professional and quality care via telehealth platforms.

“Virtual health care is health care of the future. Educating health care professionals, including medical residents before they even begin practicing, will help us inform and educate this important audience about the possibilities of telemedicine and set them up for successful adoption of technology,” said Deanna Larson, Avera eCARE CEO. “Providing an educational foundation and validated certificate in telehealth helps the field advance and ensures quality of care in this evolving space.”

Medical faculty from leading academic institutions will partner with Avera to develop the curriculum. Once launched, the national certificate program will be housed under an independent accrediting body overseen by a board of telehealth experts.

“We’ve proven over 25 years of experience that telehealth saves lives, saves costs and saves careers. We are thrilled to be able to share this wealth of knowledge with present and future medical professionals. The goal is that they will be able to use it as part of their everyday practice, and benefit from it, for example, through the collegial support it can provide,” Larson said.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust has been an important partner of Avera eCARE throughout the past decade. “This is just one of many important projects that Helmsley has supported. They push us to be better, think bigger. We could not do this without them, and so we are very grateful,” said Larson.

This new grant funding expands on a one-year planning grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust that resulted in the launch of a Telebehavioral Certificate for Residents Program. Next steps include establishing a governing board for the creation of the telehealth certificate program, convening a national expert panel to validate the curriculum objectives, as well as the development of a 5,000-square-foot telehealth education center.

“Since 2008, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has placed a priority on supporting projects that help ensure equal access to high quality health care, especially in rural areas. eCARE helps us achieve this mission in many ways. We know that educating medical professionals will impact the lives of patients, both today and in the future. In partnership with Avera, we’ve been able to powerfully move telehealth forward as a health care delivery method,” said Walter Panzirer, a Trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

With the plethora of technology available, there are many programs that are labeled as “telehealth.” Yet standards have not existed to ensure that all are high quality programs. This national certificate program aims to change that.

“Our project goal is to establish the gold standard for medical providers delivering telehealth throughout the country by providing high quality, evidence-based education in the field. We are excited that through this program we’ll be able to move from being a world-leading provider of telehealth to teaching this discipline to a national audience,” Larson said

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $2.2 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $400 million to organizations and initiatives in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, and Montana. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.