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Costco Offers Members $29 Online Health Care Visits

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Source: Bloomberg

Costco Wholesale Corp. will offer members access to medical care through a deal with online marketplace Sesame, as the retail giant joins peers by pushing deeper into health care.

Costco’s members will be eligible for Sesame’s “best pricing,” including online primary care visits for $29, Sesame said. They’ll also get mental health visits for $79 and 10% off other services. On the platform, clinicians set their prices and patients pay them directly, not through insurance.

Sesame aims “to provide great health care to the value-conscious,” said David Goldhill, the startup’s chief executive officer.

The companies didn’t disclose financial terms, but the agreement benefits both sides. Costco, which declined an interview request, will add to members’ benefits. And Sesame, a New York-based startup that’s backed by Alphabet Inc.’s venture unit, gets its marketplace in front of a vast pool of potential customers; Costco has about 125 million cardholders worldwide, and generates roughly 70% of sales in the US.

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PCC, Marion County Library System Announce Launch of Telehealth Services

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Pictured L to R: Mayor Lawson Battle, City of Nichols, Kathy Schwarting, CEO, Palmetto Care Connections, Patti Burns, Director, marion County Library System and SC Senator Kent Williams

Nichols Branch Library To Become Ninth Provider Location in Marion County

NICHOLS, S.C. (Sept. 21, 2023) – Palmetto Care Connections (PCC), a non-profit telehealth network serving rural and underserved communities across South Carolina, and the Marion County Library System celebrated the launch of telehealth services in the Town of Nichols, a rural community in Marion County.

Under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Kathy Schwarting, MHA, a full staff and a board of directors including health care leaders from across the state, PCC will ensure telehealth integration in the Nichols Branch Library by providing resources on telehealth platforms, reimbursement, policies and procedures, and telehealth certification. The launch of the services was announced during a premier event hosted by Palmetto Care Connections and the Marion County Library System at the Nichols Branch Library.

“We must continue to push the needle across rural South Carolina to ensure these communities have access to the highest levels of care,” said Schwarting. “In coordination with the Marion County Library System and Mayor Lawson Battle of Nichols, we are providing access and equity to this underserved community. I am thrilled for PCC to be a small piece of the puzzle toward a higher quality of life for the citizens of Nichols.”

The Marion County Library is a county-wide system serving a population of 35,466 through the Marion headquarters library, branches in Mullins and Nichols, and a bookmobile. The library system is affiliated with county government and the Marion County Library Board of Trustees is comprised of 7 members, each representing a County Council district. The Marion County Library System connects people, information, and ideas to encourage life-long literacy, learning, and leisure pursuits for a thriving community.

“In a rural community like Nichols, access to primary healthcare could not be more paramount,” said S.C. Sen. Kent Williams, who represents Nichols in the state Senate. “I am proud of the partnership that has emerged between the Marion County Library System and Palmetto Care Connections. With the help of these organizations, the Town of Nichols is putting its residents needs first, while being at the forefront of healthcare innovation.”

The Nichols Branch Library launch comes on the heels of Telehealth Week in South Carolina and will not be PCC’s first foray in Marion County. With nine existing locations outfitted with PCC’s telehealth services, including the Marion County Library, the county is being provided the highest quality of service.

“Since 1970, the Marion County Library System has found itself at the forefront of service to the Nichols community,” said Patti Burns, library director. “This announcement is one more example of that longstanding service. Working with PCC and the leadership of the Town of Nichols, like Mayor Battle, the vibrant community will be supported with vital healthcare resources for years to come.”

=Established in 2010, Palmetto Care Connections (PCC) is a non-profit organization that brings technology, broadband, and telehealth solutions to health care providers in rural and underserved areas in South Carolina. PCC hosts the Annual Telehealth Summit of South Carolina presenting state and national best practices and trends, as well as providing networking connections for health care, technology and broadband professionals.



PCC, Department on Aging Announce Statewide Expansion of Telehealth

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Pictured (L to R): Kathy Schwarting, CEO, PCC and Connie Munn, Director, SCDOA

Photo Credit: SC Department on Aging

PCC, Department on Aging Announce Statewide Expansion of Telehealth
Up To 18 Health Offices To Be Assessed For Innovative Telehealth Carts

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Palmetto Care Connections (PCC), a non-profit telehealth network serving
rural and underserved communities across South Carolina, and the South Carolina Department
on Aging (SCDOA) today celebrated the ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Agreement
expanding access to telehealth care for thousands of South Carolinians.

Led by Chief Executive Officer Kathy Schwarting, MHA, a full staff and a board of directors
including health care leaders from across the state, PCC will conduct site assessments at up to
18 rural senior centers to determine each office’s telehealth readiness and broadband
capabilities. Each office will then receive a telehealth cart for area seniors to use for telehealth
visits. The carts, provided by PCC for deployment, would be available for those who may
otherwise not have adequate access to health care.

“The people of our state deserve access to the highest quality health care,” said Schwarting.
“Collaborating with Director Connie Munn and her impressive team at SCDOA we have done
great work and made significant progress toward putting telehealth carts in offices across South
Carolina. Once we have these telehealth carts in place, the underserved and vulnerable among
us will be able to benefit from broad scope of health services, which they need and deserve. We
thank members of the General Assembly and the entire team at Aging for working so well with
us to make this next step a reality.”

“With our growing older population in South Carolina, at the Department on Aging, our focus is
to ensure that our older adults have a place to live, have quality of life, and can age with dignity
and respect,” Munn said. “We are grateful for the partnership with Palmetto Care Connections
that will improve access to healthcare which is vital to the quality of life for our older adults.
These telehealth carts will be able to provide a critical role in the wellness of older adults. This
would not be possible without the support from Kathy Schwarting and her dedicated team, and
the members of the General Assembly to help provide our aging population this invaluable
resource to healthcare.”

Once offices are identified as suitable for telehealth carts and PCC and SCDOA have placed
carts at the locations, PCC will train staff members to assist their seniors in successfully
completing a telehealth visit, and share online educational offerings to staff members at each
location. Additionally, PCC will provide ongoing support for each telehealth cart and help
promote the new telehealth service.

Pictured (L to R): SC Representative Mark Smith, Kathy Schwarting, CEO, PCC, Connie Munn, Director, SCDOA, and Matt Hiatt, Chief Technology Officer, PCC

SCDOA’s mission is to meet the present and future needs of seniors, and to enhance their
quality of life in South Carolina. Through a network of regional Area Agencies on Aging and
local organizations SCDOA develops and manages services that help seniors remain
independent in their homes and communities.

Established in 2010, Palmetto Care Connections (PCC) is a non-profit organization that brings
technology, broadband, and telehealth solutions to health care providers in rural and
underserved areas in South Carolina. PCC hosts the Annual Telehealth Summit of South
Carolina presenting state and national best practices and trends, as well as providing
networking connections for health care, technology and broadband professionals.

The leader of the South Carolina broadband consortium, PCC assists health care providers in
receiving broadband savings through the Federal Communication Commission’s Healthcare
Connect Fund program. Since 2013, PCC has helped providers save more than $30 million in
broadband costs.

Bamberg County welcomes broadband grant with open arms

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By Taylor Martin


BAMBERG, S.C (WRDW/WAGT) – On Wednesday, leaders in South Carolina announced a life-changing grant to bring broadband internet to one of our rural counties.

In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced nearly $700 million in grants and loans to connect thousands of people in rural areas to high-speed internet.

It’s due to the ReConnect Program, which is part of President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

Both Bamberg County and Orangeburg County are getting $12 million each.

The $24 million high-speed internet investment will bring affordable and reliable internet access to people who live in both counties.

Leaders involved in the project say these funds will be a great help for schools in the area.

“I had citizens come up to me today and say, ‘Hey we don’t have internet at all – we have no broadband. And they’re in the service area and they can’t get it from anyone, from any other service providers. So, this is going to be life-changing for several,” said Bamberg County Administrator Joey Preston.

U.S. Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District was joined by other officials in making the announcement.

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South Carolina Counties Receive $24M for Broadband

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Source: Government Technology

August 22, 2023   – The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C.

The state’s Bamberg and Orangeburg counties will receive a combined total of $24 million to expand broadband internet service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Monday.

(TNS) — Bamberg and Orangeburg counties will receive a total of $24 million to expand broadband internet service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Monday.

“Keeping the people of rural America connected with reliable, high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country and creates good-paying jobs along the way,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a release.

“Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are connecting rural communities to a global marketplace. These investments will support economic growth and prosperity for generations to come,” he said.

The local funds are part of a larger, $700 million package of grants and loans designed to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in 22 states and the Marshall Islands to reliable, affordable high-speed internet through the federal ReConnect Program.

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How do we unlock the full potential of telehealth?

By News

Source: Medical economics

by: Hari Prasad

The health care industry is witnessing a remarkable transformation in the way medical care is delivered. Telehealth, a concept once considered futuristic, has now become an integral part of the health care landscape, in large part due to its wide use and adoption during the pandemic.

Despite its revolutionizing impact on patient access and streamlining practice operations, telehealth remains underused in primary care.In fact, according to a 2021 study, over half of office-based physicians provided care via telemedicine for fewer than 25% of patient visits, and less than 20% of physicians used telemedicine for more than 50% of patient visits.

That lack of adoption means many outpatient primary care doctors are missing out on the demonstrated benefits of telehealth, such as reducing the need for in-office visits, easing the burden on the administrative staff, and providing unrivalled convenience for patients.

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Global Telehealth Growth Opportunities Report 2023: Value-based Care Goals and Health Equity Initiatives Spur Future Growth Potential

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Source: GlobeNewswier by notified and Research and Markets

Dublin, Aug. 02, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The “Global Telehealth Growth Opportunities” report has been added to’s offering.

Telehealth is gaining popularity as it saves healthcare costs and hospital travel time. It is convenient for consumers, especially the elderly and disabled, to access services from home. Healthcare organizations have been facing skilled workforce shortages and clinician burnout across the world, leading to burdened healthcare systems.

Telehealth reduces the burden by shifting primary and non-emergency in-person visits to virtual channels. Disparities in healthcare accessibility across geographies are a critical challenge as large populations from developing regions lack access to basic healthcare and medicine.

Telehealth supports healthcare across underserved regions where physicians are scarce. Virtual visits, remote patient monitoring, digital therapeutics (DTx), and personal emergency response systems (PERS) are recording consistent growth due to their critical role in addressing patient and provider challenges. Providers reluctant to embrace virtual visits adopted it during the pandemic and are now focusing on developing those capabilities.

RPM is considered an effective tool in chronic disease management and holds immense potential to revolutionize the entire practice. Provider organizations, such as hospitals, accountable care organizations (ACOs), and group practices, prefer DTx solutions to control patient care cost and quality before visits and after discharge.

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PCC partners with Family Solutions and Absolute Total Care

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This week, on July 25th and 26th, PCC had its first Digital Literacy training at the Orangeburg County Library in collaboration with Family Solutions. This grant was funded by Absolute Total Care as an initiative to train 200 mothers’ digital literacy and provide them with a device at no cost. A total of 9 women participated in our first training, and we are looking forward to the impact this training will have on mothers across South Carolina!

News release to follow…

#pcc2023 #palmettocareconnections #familysolutions #digitalliteracy #southcarolina

Telehealth’s Vital Role in Breaking Down Barriers to Mental Health Care

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Source: The Healthcare Technology Report

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about numerous challenges, including disruptions to mental health care delivery. However, a recent study published in the magazine Counseling & Development by the American Counseling Association offers encouraging insights. The research, led by Yusen Zhai, assistant professor of counseling and community counseling clinic director at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, reveals that pandemic telehealth did not hinder mental health service seekers. Instead, it emerged as a feasible and effective option, especially for clients facing transportation limitations or residing in areas with few mental health specialists nearby.

During the pandemic, lockdowns made it challenging for counselors to meet clients in person, prompting insurance companies to expand telehealth coverage. To assess its impact on counseling intentions, Zhai and his colleagues conducted a comprehensive evaluation of over 52,000 U.S. university and college students between September 2018 and June 2020. The participants provided anonymized data, were evaluated for depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, and also shared information about their mental health history and beliefs.

The study’s findings were remarkable. Despite concerns about technology infrastructure or reservations regarding phone or online therapy, telehealth did not deter individuals from seeking counseling services. This discovery validates the importance of telehealth counseling insurance coverage policies, which are crucial as society navigates the post-pandemic environment and ponders the future of healthcare delivery.

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Washington’s got a thing for telehealth

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Source: Politico


Flush times continue in Washington for telehealth advocates, marked most recently by victories in the House and at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week.

CMS proposed to boost payment rates to providers for the virtual care they give to Medicare patients in their homes. And a House subcommittee approved a bill that would provide permanent tax breaks for telehealth plans.

The nitty-gritty: In its proposed physician fee schedule for next year, CMS says doctors need additional compensation because they’re now offering a significant amount of telehealth while still maintaining their physical offices.

The agency said doctors’ expenses are consistent with a higher “non-facility” payment rate, which varies by service type.

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