On July 11th, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr made a statement announcing the establishment of the FCC’s “Connected Care Pilot Program.” The $100 million program is intended to support the development of telehealth services and delivery for low-income Americans, particularly rural and veteran populations. The decision comes from trends toward connected care observed by the FCC. Commissioner Carr acknowledged that health care is no longer limited to in-person care and that the FCC is exploring ways to support the movement towards connected care. He also noted the significant cost savings and improved patient outcomes associated with telehealth.
The FCC released a fact sheet including a draft notice of inquiry on July 12th, detailing the background of the Connected Care Pilot Program and its goals. It is hoped that by using technologies including interconnected monitoring devices, broadband-enabled video-conferencing, and cloud computing, patients will remain connected to their health care facilities beyond the brick-and-mortar location. Additionally, after the notice of inquiry is officially released, they would seek comments on the creation of the pilot program, its goals, overall program design, and evaluation measurements, including:
- The FCC’s legal authority to establish a Connected Care pilot program
- How the Universal Service Fund (USF) can support the goal of using broadband to increase access to telehealth services
- The general role of broadband in improving health outcomes
- Specific health conditions, areas of medicine, demographics or geographical areas on which the pilot program might focus
- Selecting criteria for pilot projects supported by the pilot program
- How to determine which health care providers, broadband service providers, and health facilities should be permitted to participate in the pilot program