FCC Telehealth Initiative will Focus on Low-Income, Remote Patients
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connected Care Pilot Program, a $100 million telehealth initiative, will focus on delivering virtual care to low-income patients located in remote areas, according to FierceHealthcare.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr gave the crowd a look behind the curtain of the recently announced initiative at a Connected Health Initiative event at the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center on Tuesday. The program is still in development, and neither a Notice of Inquiry nor a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking have yet been announced. But Carr was able to provide a description of the basic outline of the program.
The FCC fund would provide targeted support to connected care deployments for low-income patients, according to FierceHealthcare. The program represents a step forward for the FCC’s telehealth efforts because it will be connecting directly to individual patients, including those living in remote areas of the country, versus previous FCC efforts that mainly connected facilities.
The program is an effort to make high-quality care accessible beyond the walls of a brick-and-mortar facility. “For the first time, we now have technology that can make a difference,” Carr said, according to FierceHealthcare. “Now patients are sent home with apps on their tablets or iPads, and they can daily track their progress, get access to video and other information, and we’re seeing tremendous benefit in terms of outcomes for patients, but also really large savings for the healthcare industry.”
Part of the work of the FCC’s program will be connecting patients to the internet in areas where such a connection is difficult to reliably access by targeting broadband deployments. Broadband connection has been a challenge to progress when it comes to telehealth, and while advancing technology such as 5G is helping, remote areas can get left behind. Carr acknowledged these issues, and noted that the FCC will be looking at regulatory reforms “so that every community has a fair shot at these networks,” according to FierceHealthcare.
Sarah Sheber is assistant editor/web editor at Journal of AHIMA.