FCC Eyes Pilot Program to Support Connected Healthcare

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing to create a pilot program within the Universal Service Fund (USF) that supports “connected care” for low-income Americans and veterans.

The pilot program will help the FCC and USF better understand how the fund can assist in helping patients stay connected to healthcare providers digitally, and improve health outcomes of underserved populations.

“Despite the numerous benefits of connected care services to patients and health care providers alike, patients who cannot afford or who otherwise lack reliable, robust broadband Internet access connectivity are not enjoying the benefits of these innovative telehealth technologies,” the FCC said.

The pilot program would allow the FCC to gather data about connected care services and “also help to better understand the relationship of affordable patient broadband internet access service to the availability of quality health care, the health care cost savings that result from connected care services, and the roles of connected care on patient health outcomes.”

The pilot program will have a potential budget of $100 million, which the FCC sees as “substantial and sufficient” to run the program effectively. The FCC is proposing a three-year funding period for the program.

Comments on the proposed rule will be due at the end of August and reply comments are due by the end of September.

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