FCC to Vote on New Rural Telehealth Program

July 8, 2019

$100 million would support aid to low-income Americans and veterans in rural areas.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote July 10 on the proposed Connected Care Pilot Program, which plans to spend $100 million to support telehealth and remote patient monitoring programs targeting low-income Americans and veterans, especially those living in rural areas.

According to Managed Healthcare Executive’s sister brand Medical Economics, the Connected Care program would support health projects designed to benefit low-income residents. It would focus on assisting healthcare providers secure the technology and broadband resources needed to launch remote patient monitoring and telehealth programs.

The program was unveiled in July 2018.

Related: New Payer-Technology Partnerships Could Be Telehealth’s Future

“As healthcare inevitably moves outside the walls of the hospital, telemedicine is a viable tool for underserved communities to connect with medical professionals,” says Mark Prather, MD, MBA, CEO, and co-founder of DispatchHealth, an on-demand healthcare company, headquartered in Denver.

“However, telemedicine won't be able to address all of the healthcare problems rural communities face,” Prather says. “There are often situations that require more advanced care than a video chat can provide, especially if the patient has a more complicated medical history or social circumstance.”

Knowing this, healthcare executives must evolve healthcare models beyond telemedicine to help bridge the gap for those not able to receive care via telehealth, according to Prather.

“An in-person visit can help by offering a more detailed assessment and advanced care like on-scene lab work, IV medication infusion, or other diagnostic procedures such as an EKG or ultrasound,” he says.