Access to virtual care and remote patient monitoring for Americans without internet access is being boosted by a significant funding program.
Applications for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Connected Care Pilot Program, providing $100 million in network equipment and services for providers offering innovative telehealth and remote care services to low-income patients and veterans, is December 7.
According to the FCC, 21 million Americans lack internet access, meaning many won’t be able to access care if RPM becomes the norm.
The FCC opened the program on November 6 and is open to eligible providers in rural or non-rural areas, but is limited to nonprofit and public providers including post-secondary educational institutions, teaching hospitals, medical schools, community health centers, rural health clinics and community mental health centers.
The program will use Universal Service Fund cash over three years to help defray connected care costs for selected providers, good for 85% of the cost of eligible services and network equipment, including:
- Patient broadband Internet access services.
- Provider broadband data connections.
- Other connected care information services.
- Certain network equipment.
In a recent article about the FCC program, Healthcare IT News tracked how some of the winning healthcare systems have been putting their FCC money towarddelivering virtual care, including:
- Portland (Maine) Community Health Center used $245,988 from FCC for a new telehealth diagnostic equipment and more to care for patients in isolation, to set up dedicated telehealth rooms for all patients without the ability to participate in a remote visit and to deploy a new portable telehealth clinic system.
- Universal Community Health Center got $170,479 for smartphones, laptops, mobile hotspots, network upgrades and a telehealth platform to help with the transition to virtual care – and a goal of conducting 80% of all visits using telehealth.
- United Methodist Communities used $909,560 for a remote patient monitoring platform and telehealth-software licenses to be used in a skilled-nursing setting to help prevent falls and other dangerous conditions, and to allow for remote consults.