If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the healthcare industry anything, it is that the "want for convenience" has given way to "the need for efficiency.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has responded to this need by establishing the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which empowers healthcare providers to expand their telehealth offerings so they can more efficiently serve patients while adhering to social distancing guidelines. The application portal is now open and can be found here.
Here are some of the most important things providers need to know about the program:
1. What is the funding for?
The program provides funds that “help eligible health care providers purchase telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to provide critical connected care services, whether for treatment of coronavirus or other health conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.” Eligible providers may also apply for funding if they purchased telehealth services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic after March 13th.
To access these funds, providers are required to implement much needed, innovative services like Blockit. No financial investment is required from the provider or practice. This means that the FCC is literally paying the healthcare industry to adapt to the new expectations of care, and Blockit strongly suggests that providers take advantage of this opportunity and expand their services. Our team of industry experts would be happy to help you and your team transition into the new and necessary world of telehealth and digitally connected care.
2. Who’s eligible?
The program accepts applicants that are categorized as...
Post-secondary education institutions that offer instruction in health care or act as teaching hospitals or medical schools.
Community health centers or health centers that provide health care to migrants
Local health departments or agencies
Community mental health centers
Rural health clinics
Skilled nursing facilities
Consortia of health care providers with one or more of the above entities.
Though the FCC will receive applications from across the country, they have a specific interest in areas that have been most affected by COVID-19.
Applicants will also need to obtain an eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) for each health care provider site that they include in their application. However, Applicants that do not yet have an eligibility determination from USAC can still apply while their FCC Form 460 is pending with USAC.
Click here to access the necessary form.
3. How much funding is available?
The program’s $200 million will be split between eligible applicants based on the estimated costs of the supported services and connected devices that applicants intend to purchase. Each applicant will provide those estimates in their application.
The FCC notes that they do not anticipate awarding more than $1 million to any single applicant. This helps them accept as many applicants as possible.
The FCC also does not require health care providers to purchase only the services and connected devices identified in their applications. Applicants may use their awarded support to purchase any eligible services or connected devices they deem necessary. If an applicant exhausts their initial funds, they may request additional support.
Funds will be awarded on a rolling basis until they are exhausted or the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
4. How can you apply?
The FCC has provided a streamlined application process so that they can quickly address the needs of eligible health care providers. Applicants must submit their application to the Bureau with information that allows the Bureau to determine selections and funding amounts. Applicants must submit their applications through the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) under WC Docket No. 20-89.
We’ve created a checklist outlining the specific items providers may want to include in their application, per the FCC’s recommendations. Click here to access it.
Interested providers can immediately do three things to prepare to apply for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program:
1. Obtain an eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)
2. Obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN)
3. Register with System for Award Management.
Partner with Blockit to Optimize Your Reimbursement
As demand for more consumer-centric care delivery modalities continues to rise and mounting safety concerns grow, so too does the need for improved digital operations. The FCC recognizes the need for these services and will reimburse eligible organizations who implement Blockit. We look forward to working with healthcare providers to maximize the funding available from this program and deliver on the promise of our digital care coordination platform.
Blockit is the only unified solution to uniquely find the patients that “leaked” out of the system, keep the patients who are already there and get new patients that desire an improved administrative experience while seamlessly integrating with your existing practice workflow and systems.
Schedule a no-pressure conversation with a member of our team today.
Joseph Honescko is Blockit’s content manager.