Content:

  • Background for connected care services
  • COVID-19 Telehealth Program
  • Application process and information
  • Evaluation process
  • Connected Care Pilot Program

Overview:

On April 2, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Report and Order that it had adopted on March 31 creating the COVID-19 Telehealth Program to disburse the funds appropriated by Congress in the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) toboost telehealth capabilities in response to the public health emergency.

President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law to help eligible healthcare providers maximize their provision of connected care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Access the full document: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-44A1.pdf

Background for Connected Care Services

In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Rural Health Care Program has two distinct components:

  • Telecommunications (Telecom) Program 
  • Healthcare Connect Fund Program

Wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, opioid dependency, stroke, mental health conditions, high-risk pregnancy, and cancer are part of connected care services. Connected care and remote patient monitoring have resulted in improved health outcomes for chronic conditions and significant cost savings for health care providers and patients

There are two parts to the connected care services:

  • COVID-19 Telehealth Program (fund for immediate steps to contain the COVID Pandemic: $200 million)
  • Connected Care Pilot program (funds to support telehealth over long term: $100 million)

COVID-19 Telehealth Program

  • $200 million fund approved by the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) to boost Telehealth Capabilities.
  • All applicants, like all other entities doing business with the Commission, must register for an FRN in the Commission Registration System (CORES).
  • Does not rely on the Universal Service Fund.
  • Eligible for providers to purchase products and services relating to telehealth capabilities.
  • Can be used to free up other resources for treating both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients and to reduce risks associated with contracting the disease and risks to a healthcare facility.

Eligible Uses:

Purchase of the following:

  • Telecommunication services
  • Information services
  • Connected devices – eg Connected pulse-ox monitors
  • Services: eg Patient reporting platforms

Eligible Providers:

  • Educational institutions and Teaching hospitals
  • Community Health Centers
  • Local Health Departments
  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • Not for profit hospitals
  • Rural Health Clinics
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Consortia of health care providers falling into above categories

Application Process and Information

  • Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, April 13
  • Applications can be submitted at: https://www.fcc.gov/covid19telehealth
  • Further application information can be found in the FCC’s application guidance.
  • Information required with the application:
  • Name, address, county and healthcare provider numbers
  • Contact information of the individual responsible for the application
  • Description of Connected care services, conditions treated, goals and objectives
  • Estimated number of patients to be treated
  • Description of the telecommunications services, information services and devices requested, including total monthly funding requested for each item
  • Supporting documentation of costs
  • Timeline and project milestone information
  • Will be subject to Compliance audits
  • Health care providers do not need to conduct a competitive procurement process
  • Determine eligibility of your site from https://www.usac.org/rural-health-care/healthcare-connect-fund-program/step-1-determine-eligibility-of-your-site/ and fill the FCC Form 460 with the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC)

Evaluation Process

The Wireline Competition Bureau will evaluate applications in consultation with FCC’s Connect2Health Task Force:

  • Not more than $1 million to any single applicant
  • Monitoring devices that are connected will be funded, no funds for unconnected devices that patients use at home and share results
  • Unlike the Connected Care Pilot program which provides funds to support telehealth over long term, COVID-19 Telehealth is for immediate steps that have an immediate impact
  • Preferable funding to areas that have been the hardest hit by COVID, including low-income populations; provider shortages; rural hospital closures; limited broadband access and/or Internet adoption

Connected Care Pilot Program

  • $100 million, three-year grant program for providers who propose projects to boost connected care capabilities
  • No limits on the number of pilot projects selected
  • Apply through the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) under WC Docket No. 18-213
  • ECFS: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs
  • Not an emergency program and different from the COVID Telehealth program
  • Costs eligible to be covered by the Pilot Program include (1) patient broadband Internet access services, (2) healthcare provider broadband data connections, (3) other connected care information services, and (4) certain network equipment
  • Limited to nonprofit and public healthcare providers
  • Eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) by submitting FCC Form 460
  • Providers with experience providing telehealth or connected care services, or a partnership with a provider with such experience, will have preference. Additionally, applicants targeting veteran and low-income populations will have preference.

Goals and Metrics:

Three explicit goals for the Pilot Program to determine how USF support provided to health care providers for the costs associated with providing connected care services can enable them to:

  1. Improve health outcomes through connected care
  2. Reduce health care costs for patients, facilities and the health care system
  3. Support the trend towards connected care everywhere
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THE HEALTHCARE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION LEADER

Join the digital healthcare revolution. Stay on top of the latest news, trends, and insights with Damo Consulting.