Grant funding offers healthcare providers opportunities to implement and expand telehealth programs within their practices. But many providers’ grant-seeking efforts stop before they’ve really begun because they haven’t clarified their specific needs for telehealth services and funding.
By identifying your organization’s telehealth needs, you can gather and discover information that informs your grant search’s direction. This approach enables you to rule out opportunities that do not align and significantly narrows the search, making the process much less overwhelming.
Over the next few weeks, we’re putting together a blog series to help provide tips and insights that will help you through the grant funding process. In this piece, we’ll take a look at how and why your organization should identify your telehealth grant funding needs first before beginning the application process.
Ask Yourself Key Questions to Identify and Specify your Telehealth Needs
Before beginning your search for potential grantors, ask yourself the following questions to begin to identify and narrow down your telehealth needs:
- What do you want to accomplish? Identify specific goals, metrics, or improvements you wish to see for your organization, community, and patient populations.
- When do you need to have this completed? Consider the timing and urgency of your funding needs alongside the schedule and availability of grantor funds to guide your application choices and timelines.
- What population(s) do you want to serve? What specific needs do these patient populations have, and what common challenges do they face that could be alleviated by telehealth access? Your program is more likely to succeed if you align your funding needs with their needs for services.
- Where will the initiative be located? Your geographic location can limit the scope of an overwhelming grantor search while also generating leads for region-specific opportunities available in your area.
- How much money will you need to secure to complete this project? The nature, size, and costs of telehealth projects can vary widely, as can the allocation of funding each grantor provides. Because application rejection is common and funds remain limited, you will likely consider multiple grant funding sources throughout the application process.
The answers to these questions will provide you with parameters you can use while reviewing various funding sources. These parameters focus your search and enable you to make more informed decisions about how to proceed.
Consider Common or Trending Needs in Telehealth that Attract Grant Funding
If you’re unsure of where to focus your telehealth project, begin with the most common needs and most common sources of priorities for telehealth funding.
Consider medically underserved communities and areas of medicine where healthcare organizations struggle to attract and retain patient populations and providers. For example, rural areas, low-income communities, and tribal nations frequently generate targeted grant funding opportunities because grantors recognize that access to healthcare is a common need in those communities.
Another area that tends to attract greater needs and funding opportunities is communities with defined health disparities, particularly those that are well-documented by reputable third-party research. These can include comorbidities such as obesity, hypertension, and heart disease, which may be prevalent in a particular patient community. Similarly, grant funding opportunities may target common mental health comorbidities such as addiction and anxiety, mood, or personality disorders.
By considering common needs in the community you serve, your organization can better determine the scope of the project you want to implement. This also enables you to narrow your grantor search and identify potential funding sources that are more targeted and aligned with your telehealth goals.
Gather Input From Any Stakeholders, Especially Clinicians, as Well as Colleagues and Peers
Discuss goals and ideas with the individuals on your team who will be using the telehealth technology or are otherwise involved with the program, and gather their input and feedback. This includes your administrative staff and clinicians as well as any other departments, executives, or board members assigned to review and approve such projects.
These discussions should include your clinicians. Take the time to determine what they need, feel comfortable with, have time and energy for, and which systems they feel would best meet the needs of your organization’s patient base. Generating buy-in and input from your clinicians is critical to the successful implementation of telehealth services and technology once you receive funding.
Outside of your organization, speak with peers, colleagues, and even competitors for input on your telehealth goals and plan. Find out what has and hasn’t worked for their own telehealth efforts to inform your own plan and application. Some grantors share information about past grant award winners, who you can also contact for input and networking.
Grant seeking can feel overwhelming. But rather than looking at the totality of funds available, try to narrow your search strategically by clarifying your needs from the beginning. This saves you time later on in the process as you search for grantors and prepare your funding applications.
In the next post of our series, we’ll explore different types of grantors you can consider in your search for telehealth grant funding sources.
Marian Chambers is a Grants Consultant at Professional Grant Writers, a full-service grant writing agency that works with nonprofit organizations to identify and apply for grants to fund their programs.