FCC to Offer More Telehealth Funding: 3 Actions You Can Take to Prepare Now

Background

On September 3rd 2020, the FCC issued a Public Notice to provide more information on the Connected Care Pilot Program (“the Program”), which provides $100M to eligible healthcare providers to extend and enhance broadband in support of telehealth. The Notice outlines what is required for Program eligibility and for the application process. The Notice does not include any information on the timing of the Program application window; this information will be forthcoming in a future Public Notice.

The Program application requirements are complex and will require significant time and effort — we’ve outlined details on the Program and the near-term steps interested eligible providers should take to prepare.

About the Connected Care Pilot Program

The Connected Care Pilot Program is focused on advancing broadband through the provision of $100 million over three years for universal service support for 85% of the cost of eligible services and equipment, which include:

  • Patient broadband internet access services
  • Healthcare provider broadband data connections
  • Other connected care information services
  • Network equipment to support broadband service functionality (i.e., routers)

The Program will not provide funding for devices, including remote patient monitoring equipment, medical equipment, healthcare provider administrative costs, personnel or miscellaneous expenses. Also, the Program also will not fund network deployment, nor network build and connectivity between healthcare providers / sites.

The Program is open to eligible rural and non-rural healthcare providers in one of the following categories of “healthcare provider” as per the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Telecommunications Act of 1996 defines healthcare provider as: (1) post-secondary educational institutions offering healthcare instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools; (2) community health centers or health centers providing healthcare to migrants; (3) local health departments or agencies; (4) community mental health centers; (5) not-for-profit hospitals; (6) rural health clinics; (7) skilled nursing facilities; or (8) consortia of healthcare providers consisting of one or more entities.

The FCC’s Connected Care Pilot Program Compared to its COVID-19 Telehealth Program

The Connected Care Pilot Program was initially announced in March 2020, in tandem with the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth

Program, under the umbrella of the CARES Act. Between April – July 2020, the COVID-19 Telehealth Program awarded $200M to eligible healthcare providers for the purchase of telecommunications, information services and connected devices to provide telehealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding for this program was fully allocated and the application window closed July 25th.

Relatively speaking, the application and award process for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program was straightforward. The Connected Care Pilot Program has a more narrowly defined scope and significantly more complex requirements for application. For this reason, the FCC advised in its Sept 3rd Public Notice that potential applicants prepare in advance of the application window.

3 Actions to Take Now

While the Program application content has not been finalized, the FCC has outlined what it anticipates will be required for the application and advises healthcare providers begin working on the sizable effort early. For healthcare providers planning to seek support from the Program, here are 3 actions you should do to prepare your application.

  1. Obtain an eligibility determination by filing an FCC Form 460 (Eligibility and Registration Form) with USAC and obtaining a Health Care Provider (HCP) number for each site. Note: sites already deemed eligible for the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program or the COVID-19 Telehealth Program do not need an additional eligibility determination for the Program.
  2. Plan out details on the requested funds and how they will be used:Patient broadband internet access services
    • Healthcare provider broadband data connections
    • Other connected care information services
    • Network equipment to support broadband service functionality (i.e., routers)
  3. Gather details on the geographic area and patient population to be served, including details on if the project will primarily benefit low-income or veteran patients.

Other anticipated application requirements include:

  • Basic applicant information and key contact information for the pilot project.
  • Information on each provider and site to be included in the funding request.
  • Details on the condition(s) to be treated with Program funds, experience treating the condition(s), goals for the pilot project and measures of performance.
  • Information on if the applicant / sites received funds from other FCC programs, including the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.

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We are offering complimentary application assistance. To get started, schedule a meeting or contact us.

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