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WIC & Telehealth

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What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is the provision of health-related services remotely through technology such as computers, smartphones, or tablets. This technology can be used to facilitate communication between practitioners and participants and to deliver health education. Research has documented that many WIC participants are millennials or post-millennials who use smartphones, including mobile apps and other technology (e.g., tablets), daily. WIC participants want and support utilizing technology to better access existing WIC services.

Benefits

In addition to meeting participant needs, telehealth innovations offer many potential benefits to State Agencies (SA) including:

  • improving the quality of programming and access
  • ensuring relevance for changing WIC participant populations
  • providing flexible and adaptable tools to meet learning preferences
  • addressing potential shortages of and/or barriers to accessing qualified professionals
  • increasing opportunity for engagement and more frequent reinforcement of education messages for deeper impact

Challenges

While benefits of telehealth are apparent for both SAs and participants, there are challenges to consider for successful implementation:

  • privacy and confidentiality concerns
  • connectivity issues for rural or remote populations
  • differential access to technology
  • provider and participant comfort with technology
  • cultural competency
  • training and infrastructure requirements

WIC and Telehealth: A promising practice

Across the country, WIC SAs have overcome these challenges and are already using telehealth innovations to enhance their services. For example, researchers have evaluated the use of:

Additional Telehealth WIC Examples

Telehealth has been used in a number of ways to support the delivery of WIC programming and services. Some additional examples of telehealth innovations in WIC include: