Application period for FCC Connected Care Pilot Program now open
The application period for the FCC Connected Care Pilot Program is open for the next 30 days, through December 7.
WHY IT MATTERS
The Connected Care Pilot Program, first formalized on March 31, 2020, is open to nonprofit and public-eligible healthcare providers nationwide.
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.
The Pilot Program will not provide funding for end-user devices, FCC officials note.
"This new initiative is the healthcare equivalent of shifting from Blockbuster to Netflix," said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, who's been leading the efforts to develop the project for two years – long before the current telehealth boom.
"With smartphones, tablets, and connected healthcare devices, patients no longer need to travel to brick-and-mortar facilities or meet in person with a doctor to receive high-quality care," said Carr.
THE LARGER TREND
FCC officials say they hope the Connected Care Pilot Program will continue the momentum of the separate COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which launched early on during the pandemic.
Since then, Healthcare IT News has been closely tracking how winning health systems have been putting their FCC money toward delivering virtual care.
- 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.
ON THE RECORD
"When we first sought comment on expanding the FCC’s telehealth programs to support the delivery of high-quality care directly to Americans, we couldn’t have fully appreciated how important providing care at a distance would become," said Carr. "But supporting this trend in telehealth has proven more important than ever before."
The new Connected Care initiative "can ensure that Americans receive quality care while continuing to maintain physical separation," he said. And it can be used to treat a wide range of health conditions – such as opioid dependency, diabetes, heart disease, mental health conditions and high-risk pregnancy. Focusing this initiative on low-income Americans and veterans will ensure that everyone has a fair shot at the benefits that this new trend in telehealth can deliver."
"In the past year, connectivity has become an increasingly critical component of delivering health care services in our country," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "With the opening of this application window, the FCC affirms its commitment to driving the future of health care delivery and supporting innovative pilot projects across the country."
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