The adoption of telehealth programs and services has seen explosive growth during the current pandemic, becoming a critical component for the safe delivery of healthcare services. If you haven’t heard already, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) $200-million COVID-19 Telehealth Program is helping healthcare organizations establish or expand their telehealth capabilities and services, ensuring that patients continue to receive the medical attention they need in the safest way possible—virtually or by phone. Funded by Congress’ recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the program has already awarded over $7 million in funds to several hard-hit health systems across the U.S.
“Physicians, nurses, and caregivers are our most precious resources in the current situation, and we must enable them to deliver safe and quality care at every opportunity,” says Sirius Healthcare SVP Imran Salim. “They are tirelessly working around the clock to treat patients in a clinical setting and continuing to monitor and deliver care for patients in the comfort of their own home to free up much needed capacity in critical healthcare facilities. Sirius healthcare, our technology partners, and clients are working together to maximize the value of available telehealth funds for providers, so clinicians can continue to take care of our family, friends, and colleagues.”
What can those $$ be used for?
Qualifying organizations and healthcare systems can apply for funding to support telecommunications, information services and connected devices necessary to provide telehealth services to patients in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program will only fund devices (e.g., pulse oximetry, blood pressure monitoring devices, etc.) that connect to a healthcare system’s Internet of Things (IoT) via WiFi or Bluetooth. This includes devices that connect to a consumer’s phone, and may support remote patient monitoring, text messaging, virtual rounding or other types of video/digital solutions, even when provided from mobile or temporary locations. However, the initiative’s reach will no doubt extend well beyond the pandemic to support various healthcare services.
The program is exclusive to nonprofit and public eligible healthcare providers (no for-profit hospitals; see FAQs). This includes teaching hospitals, community health centers, local health departments or agencies, nonprofit hospitals, rural health clinics and other healthcare organizations. A $1-million award limit per organization has been established. Healthcare providers seeking to participate in the COVID-19 Telehealth Program must obtain an eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) before applying, by filing an FCC Form 460 through My Portal on USAC’s webpage.
If your organization is eligible, you need to apply quickly! Funding requests are on a first-come, first-served basis until the available funding is exhausted, or the pandemic comes to an end.
Check out this episode of the This Week in Health IT podcast. Visit the FCC website or contact a Sirius Healthcare rep for more information and assistance.