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FCC Approves New Telehealth Program

FCC Approves New Telehealth Program

telehealthAs of July 10th, the Federal Communications Commission agreed to NPRM or a Notice of Proposed Rule Making for a Connected Care Pilot program which allocates $100 million of universal funds for connected care technologies with healthcare providers also known as a telehealth program.

What This Means for Patients

Healthcare providers are now required to provide telehealth broadband services at home for patients. The overall goal of this initiative would be to provide access for medically underserved demographics of advanced telemedicine technologies. This new program will not only serve those who reside in metropolitan areas, but will also secure services for patients in rural areas, tribal lands, low-income areas, underserved areas, and veterans. What are the next steps to making this proposal a reality?

Telehealth is Open for Discussion

As with most FCC rulings, there is an Open Commission Meeting that revolves around a set agenda and discusses statements, press releases, important items, photographic evidence, and public materials. These meetings are recorded and made available to the public. The items that need to be discussed in order to fully adopt the NPRM of the new telehealth program are as follows:

    1. Subsidizing provision of broadband connections for patients.
    2. Discussing what qualifies as a “supported service” and defining such.
    3. Balancing the needs of veterans and low-income patients and how to overcome barriers of services for connected care in correlation with abuse, fraud, or waste.
    4. Discussing means to support services or packages needed for “informational purposes”
    5. Regulating Program Rules to include or exclude
      1. Administrative and outreach costs
      2. Necessary network equipment
      3. End-user device funding

Due to the $100 million cap for funding, all these categories will need to be evaluated and represented to the full extent to ensure the dividends are proper and fair. Projects related to this telehealth program can also allocate money based on a point system.

These projects could earn points additionally if they directly pertain to geographic areas or service certain populations that are the subject to healthcare disparities such as, tribal lands, low-income areas, underserved areas, and veterans. Projects can also gain more points towards allocating funds if they focus on certain common health conditions and chronic crises.

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Author: Valerie Stephen

Valerie Stephen