Healthcare providers are facing an urgent need to implement services to virtually connect with patients and provide care to rural communities. To help move these programs forward, the FCC is now providing funding for telehealth programs in response to the pandemic.
As part of the CARES Act, the COVID-19 Telehealth Program provides $200 million in funding in order to support providers implementing telehealth solutions. The program helps eligible facilities expedite implementing these services by fully funding the software and devices needed to provide immediate, virtual care. To date, the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program has funded 56 health care providers in 23 states.
The program provides funding for services including remote patient monitoring platforms and storing and sharing the transfer of patient images and data.
Many facilities have already had success in implementing telehealth programs. At WakeMed Health and Hospitals in North Carolina, Valerie Barlow, Vice President of Clinical and Support Services said, “61 percent of patients who used WakeMed Virtual Urgent Care and completed the survey would have gone to an urgent care facility had they not had access to this telemedicine option, (and) 14 percent of patients who used virtual care and completed the survey would have gone to an emergency room had they not had access to the service.”
Expanding telehealth programs not only reduces the need for in-person communication but also enables care and resources for rural communities. “As the nation combats COVID-19, telehealth is increasingly instrumental and effective as a tool to provide healthcare for patients across the country, especially the most vulnerable,” said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels.