FCC Approves 36 Pilot Programs

On June 17, 2021, the FCC https://www.fcc.gov, approved 36 additional pilot projects for over $31 million. The new pilot projects join an initial set of 23 projects approved earlier this year bringing the total to over $57 million for 59 pilot projects serving patients in 30 states plus Washington D.C.

According to CMS, telehealth activity increased from 15,000 beneficiaries a week pre-pandemic, to 24.5 million beneficiaries receiving telehealth services between mid-March and mid-October 2020.

The pilot program will make up to $100 million available from the Universal Service Fund https://fcc.gov/general/universal-service-fund, over a three year period for selected pilot projects.

The plan is to help defray the costs of providing certain telehealth services for eligible healthcare providers and help provide connected care services to low income populations and veterans.

Several projects emphasize the implementation of new telehealth systems. Grace Health in Battle Creek, MI is going to receive $606,339 to implement a new telehealth system and devote resources for patient broadband internet access services. The plan is to serve predominantly low income populations to treat infectious disease, opioid dependency, and address maternal health issues

A pilot project at the University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), is going to receive $320,535 to support patient connectivity services and a telehealth platform. The funds will provide video visits and remote treatment for a range of conditions including mental health, opioid dependency, chronic conditions, maternal health, and high risk pregnancies.

 JABSOM’s pilot project will partner with the HRSA’s funded University of Hawaii Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center and the Hawaii/Pacific Area Health Education Center to provide patient digital literacy support.

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) seeks $297,670 for Connected Care to provide increased broadband access for telehealth services and patient-based internet connected remote monitoring for the  homeless with substance abuse disorders including pregnant women, and persons with severe psychiatric illness. JHU was selected because of their plan to provide connectivity and to expand telehealth access to a primarily low income and underserved patient population.

The Hudson Headwaters Health Network (HHHN) consortium with sites in 13 communities in upstate N.Y, is going to receive $767,210 to upgrade routers at satellite locations and to procure a HIPAA compliant digital portal to support telehealth sessions and patient scheduling. 

The projects will also provide broadband accessibility and funds to help patients suffering from COVID-19 plus remote patient monitoring to help people with hypertension cancer, diabetes, and chronic heart conditions.

For more information on the 36 newly approved projects, go to https://fcc.gov/document/fcc-approves-connected-care-pilot-program-guidance-36-project.  

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