CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield said it will offer $1.3 million in grants to four initiatives meant to help medical providers develop telemedicine-based ways to increase access to behavioral health services.

CareFirst, based in Owings Mills, Md., announced Thursday it would pledge the grant money over three years to seed projects that use video conferencing or other technologies to allow doctors and others to diagnose and treat patients remotely. The grants were meant to expand access to behavioral health care for patients in both urban and rural areas of D.C. and Maryland.

Among the recipients, D.C.'s La Clinica del Pueblo is looking to link about 650 patients with remote access to bilingual health care providers with its grant, totaling more than $424,000.

Other recipients included Catholic Charities of Baltimore, which will received about $53,500 to provide behavioral services to about 120 underserved children using videoconferencing technology; Atlantic General Hospital on the Eastern Shore of Maryland will partner with the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore to provide initial evaluations and follow-up visits to 325 young people with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders.

Finally, Sheppard Pratt Health System in Towson, Md., will receive nearly $650,000 toward providing about 1,200 patients in clinics access to psychiatrists through videoconferencing.

“These organizations are at the forefront of a growing movement to use the power of the technology at our hands to treat children and adults who suffer from a variety of behavioral health disorders,” said Maria Harris Tildon, CareFirst’s senior vice president of public policy and community affairs, in a statement.

The insurer put out a request for proposals for the projects in October.