From The SCTA Leadership

A picture of SCTA Co-Chairs, James T. McElligott, Kathy Schwarting, and SC telehealth champion, Representative Bill Herbkersman.

As we reflect on another successful year of telehealth in South Carolina, we are reminded of its significance to healthcare. Building upon years of success, the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance (SCTA) is committed to sustained, equitable distribution of healthcare access. Through connectivity, digital literacy, and maturing care delivery models, South Carolina will continue to see enhancements of care statewide.

During the COVID-19 pandemic telehealth became essential, and nearly three years later, a hybrid model of care combining virtual and in-person options has become the new standard. This transformation to more patient-centered and patient-initiated health care demonstrates the response to fulfill the unique needs of each individual. Combining local and distant health care providers through hybrid care models is becoming increasingly common across care settings, and increasingly preferred by patients and providers alike. Throughout this report, you will see telehealth as the key to a transformed continuum-of-care.

It is clear that our state efforts are aimed toward inclusion, ensuring all citizens have access to care, regardless of their demographics or geographical location. Intentional efforts to mend the gaps in care have been put forth to serve our most vulnerable regions. Digital literacy and broadband initiatives, a new layer of necessary infrastructure, continue to accelerate a clear path to a highly connected future. The present is no longer asking if we can do telehealth, but rather how we should apply it, how it should be made equitable, and how we can perfect it. We have laudable goals through a maturing strategic plan, holding each domain and tactic accountable, so that we may demonstrate sustained improvements in healthcare.

While we are proud of each accomplishment, our work is not done, and our goals cannot be achieved working in silos. The SCTA remains committed to continued collaboration and innovation to improve the lives of all South Carolinians through telehealth.

James McElligott, MD, MSCR Co-Chair, Medical University of SC 

James T. McElligott, MD, MSCR

Telehealth Executive Medical Director
Medical University of South Carolina
SCTA Advisory Council Co-Chair

Kathy Schwarting, MHA Co-Chair, SCTA Advisory Council Palmetto Care Connections 

Kathy Schwarting, MHA

Chief Executive Officer
Palmetto Care Connections
SCTA Advisory Council Co-Chair

Dear Fellow South Carolinians:

It is my honor to introduce the 2022 South Carolina Telehealth Alliance (SCTA) annual report, which outlines the achievements of the unprecedented statewide collaboration of health systems, primary and specialty care providers, state agencies, and other shared-mission support organizations working to expand health care access through telehealth in our state. Since its inception in 2014, SCTA partners have worked tirelessly to advance telehealth clinical programs, education, awareness, and technology and broadband infrastructure. When the pandemic arrived in South Carolina in 2020, it was thanks to the investment from the state and the groundwork laid by SCTA partners that our healthcare systems were ready.

In 2022, we’ve seen telehealth become solidified as a key component of our healthcare infrastructure. While in-person care will always be essential, it is clear that both patients and providers prefer a virtual option when appropriate, as telehealth volumes remain elevated compared to pre-pandemic rates. The challenges of the pandemic ultimately uncovered a more efficient and patient-centered way to provide care, through a combination of in-person and virtual visits. The ways in which patients access healthcare have changed, which has required both federal and state policymakers to adapt and re-think the role of virtual care in our healthcare systems, including how it is practiced, covered, and paid for.

We must leverage the momentum of the past three years and continue to build upon the strong foundation laid in2014. Since the initial state investment in telehealth we’ve seen skeptics turn to champions as our telehealth clinical programs have grown and matured significantly. At the Statehouse, the opportunity is ripe to review our laws and policies governing telehealth to reflect the changed healthcare landscape, with an eye towards sustainability. I hope you enjoy this 2022 SCTA Annual Report, outlining the impressive work and collaboration of SCTA partners, and the innovative and impactful role telehealth has played in our state.

A picture of Representative William "Bill" Herbkersman

Representative William "Bill" Herbkersman

Chairman, Healthcare Subcommittee, House Ways and Means Committee