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FCC Unveils More Telehealth Grants, New 5G Fund for Rural America

By April 24, 2020No Comments


By Eric Wicklund on

The Federal Communications Commission has announced a third group of healthcare providers to receive funding from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.

In the past week, the FCC has awarded $9.5 million from the $200 million program to 17 providers in 10 states for new and existing connected health platforms that aim to treat infected patients, secure the safety of doctors and nurses and improve care management and coordination for high-risk populations and others who need non-Coronavirus care.

(For more coronavirus updates, visit our resource page, updated twice daily by Xtelligent Healthcare Media.)

The latest round of grant recipients is as follows:

  • The NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City is getting $772,687 to improve telehealth programs to monitor high-risk, elderly and vulnerable patients with complex care and chronic disease concerns at home;
  • Christiana Care Health Services in Newark, DE, is getting $714,322 to expand its telehealth and remote patient monitoring platforms to low-income, vulnerable patients in New Castle County and elsewhere;
  • Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, MD, has been awarded $664,606 to establish video-based virtual care services to diagnose and treat infected patients in central Maryland and support RPM programs for high-risk and non-COVID-19 patients who are being discharged from the hospital back to their homes;
  • White Plains Hospital Medical Center in White Plains, NY, is getting $165,832 to establish a telehealth program for high-risk patients with pre-existing pulmonary conditions and use telemedicine technology to improve care for the hospital’s patient population while minimizing the risk of exposure for care providers and those who aren’t infected;
  • Garfield Health Center in Monterey Park, Cam has been awarded $130,217 to expand telehealth services to treat vulnerable low-income patients in the San Gabriel Valley who have underlying and/or chronic health conditions;
  • The HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region 2, doing business as the Open Health Care Clinic in Baton Rouge, LA, is getting $116,049 to expand its telehealth and RPM services to treat vulnerable low-income patients.

In a separate announcement, the FCC has announced plans to distribute as much as $9 billion through the Universal Service Fund to establish 5G wireless broadband connectivity in rural parts of the country, giving healthcare providers and consumers a better foundation for telehealth and mHealth.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks public comment on two directions for what will be called the 5G Fund for Rural America. One would create a competitive reverse auction in 2021 “by defining eligible areas based on current data sources that identify areas as particularly rural and thus in the greatest need of universal service support and prioritize funding to areas that have historically lacked 4G LTE or even 3G service.” The second option would delay that auction until at least 2023 and give the agency time to collect mobile broadband coverage data through the new Digital Opportunity Data Collection.

Finally, the FCC has also adopted rules opening up the 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use, giving healthcare providers and others more room to expand Wi-Fi networks and bolster the Internet of Things to support mHealth devices and uses.