Author: Mike Milligan - President, Legato Healthcare Marketing and DocOutsideTheBox.com
As we’ve been frantically rolling out telehealth solutions for our rural health clients the last couple of weeks, there’s been tremendous interest in some very intriguing grant opportunities.
Medical practices are turning to telehealth to address the Coronavirus pandemic, and many need a connected health solution to stay afloat even after the crisis passes. As you know, many medical practices have shut their doors due to the mandatory quarantines, declining the number of patient visits.
Now with the passage of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act—along with state and federal emergency action—healthcare providers have an easier path for telehealth implementation and reimbursement. The CARES Act provided 200 million dollars to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which resulted in the COVID-19 Telehealth Program Grant opportunity.
In addition to launching the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the FCC has released final rules to stand up the Connected Care Pilot Program, a three-year, $100 million program run through the Universal Service Fund to benefit underserved populations, especially low-income residents and veterans. The FCC also made several regulatory announcements on existing telehealth support:
- The FCC waived gift rules in the Rural Health Care and E-Rate Programs
- The FCC announced that it would fully fund all eligible Rural Health Care Program services for the current funding year with an additional $42.19 million.
Eligible Applicants— The program is limited to nonprofit and public eligible healthcare providers:
- post-secondary educational institutions offering healthcare instruction, teaching hospitals and medical schools
- community health centers or health centers providing healthcare to migrants
- local health departments or agencies
- community mental health centers
- not-for-profit hospitals
- rural health clinics
- skilled nursing facilities
- consortia of healthcare providers consisting of one or more entities falling into the above categories
Award Amounts— The FCC does not specify a limit on how much it will award, but it does not anticipate awarding more than $1 million to any single applicant.
Use of Funds— Grant funds should be used to purchase telecommunications services, information services and connected devices to be used in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible providers must have purchased telecommunications and/or telemedicine equipment after March 13, 2020. The telehealth program is a reimbursement-based grant. There are additional requirements noted in the application documents.
Application Timeline— The FCC began accepting applications on April 13, 2020. Providers' applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until they are exhausted or until the current pandemic ends. Organizations located in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases will be given priority as well as underfunded institutions with mostly low-income and Medicare patients.
Submit an Application
- Download a fillable PDF form for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application.
- Fill in the entries and answer the questions on the form.
- Save the form with the following filename template: FRN_ApplicantName_MMDDYYYY (date application submitted).
- Email the completed form and supporting documentation to TelehealthApplicationSupport@fcc.gov.
- The COVID-19 Telehealth Program applications must reference WC Docket No. 20-89 and must be filed electronically by accessing the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS).
- Grant Contacts— For questions for the FCC, please contact 1) Rashann Duvall at (202) 418-1438 or Duvall@fcc.gov, or 2) Hayley Steffen at (202) 418-1586 or Hayley.Steffen@fcc.gov.
- FCC has also provided resources and instructions on how to complete the application
I KNOW I NEED TO MOVE QUICKLY, BUT I’M BOMBARDED IN COVID-19 DETAILS
Funding options are important, but the first step is starting a program and doing it quickly to retain revenue and care for patients.
If you’re like most rural organizations, you’ve thought of this, you’re in the beginning stages, or you’ve developed a quick-fix approach to get you by. You may have even selected a telehealth platform already. There are many out there, some even offering upfront services for free. But as you’re in crisis mode, you may soon discover that selecting a telehealth platform—although important—is simply one of the many issues to address immediately. Here are some other questions to consider:
- Are we aware of all the methods of retaining revenue, as well as the latest on waivers and coding?
- Are we eligible to receive full-funding for telehealth services and devices through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) COVID-19 Telehealth Program?
- Are we equipped to train providers on proper use, etiquette and protocol?
- Can we properly assess and evaluate software options?
- Are we able to integrate with our electronic medical record as needed?
- Can we readily adapt workflow and coordinate with billing?
- Do we have the communication tools in place for providers, patients and the community?
DOCOUTSIDETHEBOX.COM, THIS IS WHERE WE COME IN.
A service of Legato, DocOutsideTheBox is derived from a 10-year strategic partnership with Valis Inc., a leading telehealth advisor in the rural health industry. The concept is simple: we evaluate your individual situation and recommend a customized telehealth solution for primary or specialty care that includes software selection, regulatory compliance, provider education, EMR integration and more. We have already vetted a number of software options, and we will compare these for you, along with other suggestions you may have, to land on the best solution for you and your organization. But even more than finding the right technology solution is the turnkey implementation, which is where the real work begins. Our team is ready and equipped to manage the process for you from start to finish and provide all of the customized communications you need to share the news of this service internally, and with existing and prospective patients.
We invite you to learn more of the program highlights and details on our website here.
In the meantime, as demand is high, I encourage you to schedule a no-obligation, 30-minute session to learn more now. Upon scheduling, you’ll receive an email with a questionnaire to complete before our call. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll find a time (evenings and weekends work too). We understand the importance of moving quickly.