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Press Release

May 22, 2019 15:01 UTC

Community Health Plan of Washington Leaders Co-Author Journal of Rural Health’s 2018 Article of Year

SEATTLE--(Business Wire)--Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW) announced today that the Journal of Rural Health (JRH) recognized an article developed by two co-authors from CHPW – Stephanie Shushan and Erin Hafer – as the 2018 Article of the Year. The article outlines how Telemental Health (TMH) services can offer practical solutions for reducing common healthcare barriers in rural communities.

“This reflects important work to address the need for mental health services in rural communities through innovative solutions, and I’m thrilled that the Journal of Rural Health recognized this work as the subject of the 2018 Article of the Year,” said Leanne Berge, CEO of Community Health Plan of Washington. “CHPW and our Community Health Center providers have focused on integrating behavioral health services within the primary care practice for many years through innovative solutions that leverage the resources available at the community level. We’re excited to collaborate with our academic partners as well to create better outcomes through an integrated, whole-person approach.”

The article – Developing Telemental Health Partnerships Between State Medical Schools and Federally Qualified Health Centers: Navigating the Regulatory Landscape and Policy Recommendations – was informed by the authors’ experience launching the Study to Promote Innovation in Rural Integrated Telepsychiatry (SPIRIT) trial. This research identified approaches to help primary care providers treat patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder through a collaborative care model or direct-to-patient telemedicine. Drawing on the authors’ collective experience launching TMH partnerships, the study makes recommendations to state medical schools and qualified health centers about how to overcome existing barriers. It also suggests policy changes that would mitigate the impact of these barriers.

“Both the editor and editorial board of the Journal of Rural Health see this article as addressing an important issue and offering practical and actionable recommendations for improving access to telemental health services,” says Carrie Henning-Smith, Editorial Board chair at the Journal of Rural Health. “This article can make a positive difference in the effort to address widespread barriers to mental health care in rural areas. We applaud the authors for their work and are pleased to disseminate this work through the Journal.”

This study aims to help rural communities gain more equitable access to mental health specialists. TMH represents a feasible solution to delivering services to these communities, and the article describes how this type of system would benefit patients. Establishing a sustainable TMH program between health centers and state medical schools would reduce barriers and provide patient solutions, without the need to navigate separate health care systems.

The study is led by several of CHPW’s health network participants – including Family Health Centers, Moses Lake Community Health Center, Sea Mar CHC and Yakima Neighborhood Health Services – and the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. CHPW also plays a key role in SPIRIT as a member of the study’s Executive Council. In this role, CHPW supports the implementation of the study in Washington state and assesses the long-term sustainability of its approaches, including identifying billing and policy barriers.

The winning article was recognized at the National Rural Health Association’s Annual Rural Health Conference on May 9 in Atlanta. To read the article click here and to learn more about CHPW visit

About CHPW

Founded in 1992 by a network of community health centers in Washington state, Community Health Plan of Washington is a community-governed, local not-for-profit health plan. CHPW’s mission is to deliver accessible managed care services that meet the needs and improve the health of our communities. CHPW believes in the power of community; when people stand together, they stand stronger and are able to help each other reach their best health. CHPW serves approximately 270,000 members through Medicaid and Medicare programs across the state. To learn more, visit or connect with us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or LinkedIn.

RH Strategic for Community Health Plan of Washington
Danielle Ruckert
(206) 607-1311

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