The Federal Communications Commission has approved ten rounds of telehealth program applications, awarding $104 million to healthcare providers in 42 states as well as Washington, D.C.
The $200 million COVID-19 telehealth program is part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Health centers and hospitals may apply for up to $1 million to cover the costs of telecommunication equipment, internet-connected monitoring devices, and broadband connectivity.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth uses digital communication technologies, such as mobile devices and computers, to remotely access health care services as well as to manage health care. These could be video conferencing or a phone call with a health care practitioner, ordering medications online, or uploading information such as your blood pressure or blood sugar readings.
These services can be very useful to people living in very remote, rural communities; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the use of telemedicine as a means to avoid human-to-human contact, intending to mitigate the spread of the virus.
While telehealth shows the potential for improved, coordinated care, it also risks fragmenting health care. This could lead to overuse of telehealth, inappropriate use of medications, gaps in care, or unneeded or overlapping care. Furthermore, insurance reimbursement for telehealth varies by the insurer and the state. Finally, some people who could benefit from telehealth may not be able to; that’s especially true in rural regions with poor internet service.
Eleven $1 million COVID-19 telehealth awards so far
Since April 16, the FCC has approved funding for 305 healthcare providers. Below is a list of the hospitals and healthcare systems that have received a $1 million award through the program:
Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, LA, received a cool $1 million for telehealth devices and services. Ochsner treats high-risk patients and populations in Mississippi and Louisiana, striving in the battle to treat and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, was awarded $1 million for tablets, telemedicine carts, monitoring equipment, and a virtual triage platform to implement a digital ICU program.
University of Mississippi Medical Center/UMMC Consortium in Jackson MS, will use its $1 million awards for network equipment and upgrades, software licenses, connected devices, and other telehealth equipment to help develop a telemedicine solution for COVID-19 triage.
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare in Chicago was awarded $1 million for network upgrades, a telehealth platform, remote radiology workstations, a thermal temperature screening system, and monitoring equipment to create a comprehensive telehealth platform.
NYC Health and Hospitals in New York City received $1 million for smartphones, monitoring equipment, a telehealth platform, and a monitoring platform subscription to provide remote urgent care for COVID-19 patients and a remote monitoring program for patients suspected of having COVID-19.
Providence St. Joseph Health Consortium in Renton, Washington was awarded $1 million for monitors, telemedicine carts, and internet access to offer both video and audio-only consultations and clinical assessments.
Johns Hopkins Health Systems in Baltimore, MD received $1 million for a medical kiosk, a remote intensive care unit, connected devices, and various telehealth equipment for remote COVID-19 care to patients.
Novant Health Consortium in Winston-Salem, N.C. was awarded $1 million for telehealth software and equipment to offer telehealth services to intensive care units. The telehealth services will also provide remote COVID-19 monitoring and treatment.
NYP Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in New York City was awarded $1 million for telemedicine carts, connected devices, and remote monitoring devices to offer patients virtual consultations, monitoring, and treatment.
Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut received $1 million for various telehealth equipment to treat intensive care and surgical patients.
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN received $1 million to launch video telehealth services as well as remote patient monitoring in more than 50 communities across Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.