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Analysis

FCC to Vote on $100M Telehealth Initiative

By Jack O'Brien  
   June 19, 2019

Brendan Carr, the agency's commissioner, announced that the FCC will vote on the Connected Care Pilot Program on July 10.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote on a $100 million telehealth initiative next month, according to an announcement by agency Commissioner Brendan Carr Wednesday morning.

The FCC will consider the Connected Care Pilot Program, which increases support for telehealth efforts aimed at low-income Americans in rural areas, at its July 10 meeting.

Carr announced his support for the initiative in front of a community health clinic in Laurel Fork, Virginia, saying that healthcare services are "no longer limited to the confines of traditional brick and mortar healthcare facilities.”

Related: FCC Evaluates Rural Health Broadband Efforts

"With an Internet connection, patients can now access high-quality care right on their smartphones, tablets, or other devices regardless of where they are located," Carr said in a statement.  "I think the FCC should support this new trend towards connected care, which is the healthcare equivalent of moving from Blockbuster to Netflix. That’s why the FCC will vote to advance my $100 million pilot program at our July 10 meeting. It will focus on ensuring that low-income Americans and veterans can access this technology. Particularly in rural communities like Laurel Fork, where the nearest hospital is in a different state, access to telehealth can make a life-saving difference.”

The FCC stated that connected care technologies have assisted rural and low-income communities with health outcomes, citing a study about remore patient monitoring that showed a 20% reduction in all-cause mortality as well as a 15% reduction in heart failure-related hospitalizations.

Another remote patient monitoring trial cited by the agency resulted in a 25% drop in length of stay, a 46% decrease in ER visits, and a 53% reduction in hospital admissions.

In addition to voting on the Connected Care Pilot Program, the FCC will vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking that will seek comment on funding to defray the cost of healthcare providers joining the telehealth initiative and targeting innovative pilot programs aimed at responding to critical health crises. These include diabetes management and combatting the opioid epidemic among others.

Related: FCC Chair: In Rural America, Digital Divide Slows a Vital Path for Telemedicine

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Photo credit: WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15: U.S. Federal Communications Commission Headquarters in Washington, DC on February 15, 2015. - Image / Editorial credit: Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com


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