FCC Awards Grant to UVA Health

To help move telehealth forward during the pandemic, FCC https://www.fcc.gov awarded a grant provided by the “FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program” to UVA Health for $767,139. The funding will be used to expand the University of Virginia’s use of telehealth for patient care during the pandemic.

The grant will support:

  • Expanding remote patient monitoring as patients are diagnosed with COVID-19 or discharged from the hospital
  • Deploying a mobile telemedicine solution for use in care settings to provide remote exam and monitoring tools
  • Building a virtual urgent care platform to provide non-emergency care without an in-person visit
  • Providing patient-care video conferencing in UVA’s emergency department and isolation rooms

 

In testimony before the Senate HELP Committee, https://www.help.senate.gov Karen S. Rheuban MD, Co-Founder and Director for the Center for Telehealth at the University of Virginia’s (UVA Health) https://uvahealth.com/services/telemedicine telemedicine program, discussed how telehealth is playing a critical and important role during the pandemic.

UVA’s telehealth response to COVID-19 has been rapidly scaling the telehealth program to pandemic related needs. Some of the actions include:

  • Configuring more than 100 isolation rooms in the Medical Center with the “Isolation Communication Management System” (iSOCOMs) developed to provide remote treatment, guidance, and supervision for UVA’s Special Pathogens Unit and a biocontainment room in UVA’s Emergency Department
  • Enabling the use of telehealth technologies to enable UVA providers to convert more than 45,000 in-clinic patient appointments to virtual patient visits beginning in mid-March
  • Launching an innovative approach to rapidly deploy telehealth tools to support the management of at-risk patients in care settings experiencing high COVID-19 outbreak rates
  • Establishing a new Virtual Urgent Care service in the Emergency Department
  • Expanding provider-to-provider eConsults in outpatient and inpatient settings
  • Expanding the remote patient monitoring program to vulnerable patients and quarantined patients with COVID-19 so the patients are able to have their vital signs monitored at home and video-based rounds by UVA Health advanced practice nurses
  • Establishing the COVID-19 Project ECHO educational series for practitioners which includes training on the use of PPE, COVID-19 testing, treatment, and the use of telehealth
  • Performing telehealth training for all levels of providers, students, and support staff with a broad range of resources via the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center and the UVA accredited, online training program

 

Dr. Rheuban said, “It’s important to build on the important actions taken nationwide during the COVID-19 public health emergency to help prepare for any future public health emergencies and to ensure that patients do not lose access to telehealth supported care when the COVID-19 emergency concludes.”

In summary, Dr. Rheuban told the Senate Committee that she would like Congress to:

  • Advance telehealth payment reform particularly through Medicare and Medicaid and encourage alignment by commercial plans
  • Invest in broadband expansion to reduce disparities
  • Increase funding for the HRSA funded telehealth resource centers
  • Encourage the DEA to establish the Special Registration Process for prescribing controlled substances by telemedicine providers
  • Expand training of the healthcare workforce
  • Support innovative models of virtual continuing health professional education such as Project ECHO
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