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USF Dollars Eyed For Telehealth “Connected Care Pilot Program”

Last week the U.S. Federal Communications Commission opted to go forward with an exploration of allocating $100 million of Universal Service Funds to pay for what the body calls a “Connected Care Pilot Program” designed to deliver telehealth solutions with a focus on rural communities and military veterans.

Next steps are for the FCC to open up a comment period related to the funding, goals of the pilot program, budget, application process and how to measure effectiveness.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has pushed for funding the telehealth concept. After the vote last week, he said “advancements in technology mean we can now bring connected care everywhere. We should explore how the FCC can support this new trend in telehealth, which can lower costs and improve health outcomes.” He said extending the reach of healthcare out of clinics and into peoples’ homes can “help bridge this doctor divide.”

In terms of specific types of treatments, the FCC calls out diabetes management, pediatric heart disease, opioid dependency, stroke treatment, mental health treatment, high-risk pregnancies and cancer treatment.

In terms of real world results, the FCC points to a pilot conducted the University of Mississippi Medical Center which involved remote monitoring for people with diabetes. “Doctors and other health practitioners treated patients remotely at home using video streaming and other forms of two-way live communications,” according to background materials. “The pilot resulted in, among other benefits, a marked decrease in blood glucose levels, early recognition of diabetes-related eye disease, and no diabetes-related hospitalization or emergency room visits among the patients.” – RCR Wireless News

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