New FCC telehealth grant programs subsidize cost of WELL and other connected care services

April 8, 2020 - by Pamela Ellgen

“Our nation’s healthcare providers need us more than ever, and we at the FCC are answering the call.”

Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai said this in an FCC news brief April 2, 2020 announcing two new telehealth grant programs totaling $300 million. They grant programs enable rapid deployment of “connected care services” in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The FCC can now take immediate steps to provide funding so that more patients can be treated at home, freeing up valuable hospital beds for those who most need them and reducing the risk of exposure to the virus,” Pai said.

Telehealth services matter now more than ever

The goal behind the telehealth grant programs is to provide immediate support to health systems in improving access to care. Additionally, the programs aim to prevent pandemic spread by facilitating social distancing. The FCC telehealth grant application deadline for the bulk of the funds is the end of July 2020.

“Such technology is an essential part in improving communications between health care providers and patients during this time in order to better monitor patients’ health and improve their health outcomes,” the FCC said.

How WELL supports connected care services

The FCC broadly defines connected care services to include remote patient monitoring, “store and forward” services (e.g. transfer of patient images and data for interpretation by a physician), and patient education. All of these can be accomplished using the WELL platform.

WELL also offers robust wrap-around telehealth services. Health systems use WELL to increase patient awareness of existing telehealth services, maximize the percentage of patients who enroll, and coordinate telehealth appointments from outreach to completion.

FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Grant Program

The $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program offers immediate federal funds to support healthcare providers. It supplies eligible hospitals and health centers with telehealth grants of $1 million each to cover the necessary costs of providing connected care services in response to the pandemic. The FCC will accept funding applications from healthcare providers through July 2020 and process them on a rolling basis.

FCC Connected Care Pilot Program

A separate three-year Pilot Program will provide long-term support of up to $100 million in federal funds. They will help defray health care providers’ costs of providing connected care services. The Pilot Program will also assess how the Universal Service Fund can be used in the long-term to support telehealth.

“We expect that the Pilot Program will benefit many low-income and veteran patients who are responding to a wide variety of health challenges such as diabetes management, opioid dependency, high-risk pregnancies, pediatric heart disease, mental health conditions, and cancer,” the FCC said.

FCC telehealth grant programs eligibility

A large set of provider organizations stand to benefit from the new program. The set of eligible entities is consistent with the 1996 Act and the CARES Act — “providers that are likely to be most in need of funding to respond to this pandemic.” These include:

    • Medical schools and teaching hospitals
    • Community health centers and migrant care centers
    • Local health agencies and departments
    • Community mental health centers
    • Not-for-profit hospitals
    • Rural health clinics
    • Skilled nursing facilities (e.g. long term care facilities)

WELL has a proven track record supporting FQHCs, CHCs, and hospitals, including VCC, TVHC, Altura, and OCHIN.

 

No-risk with conditional contract and quick onboarding

WELL offers both immediate and long-term solutions for eligible provider organizations to take advantage of these two new telehealth grant programs:

The Rapid Release Program is a lightweight, crisis-oriented version of WELL that can be fully deployed in just 48 hours. WELL provides RRP below cost to new enterprise health systems and allows unlimited use of our most critical features for 90 days.

For healthcare organizations wanting to take advantage of the grant programs and mitigate risk, WELL is offering three-year contracts on our full Enterprise Platform conditional on FCC grant application approval.

We understand the financial burden the coronavirus pandemic has placed on health systems. By enabling telehealth visits and decreasing no-shows, optimal patient communication can significantly improve access to medical care. It can also increase revenue as care models adapt during this pandemic. ♥

 

The information provided in this document does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. WELL is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. All information and content provided are for informational purposes only. Please contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or specific factual situation.
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