By Josephine Bernson, Chief Revenue Officer, Great Plains Communications

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the healthcare process. With the high risk of COVID-19 transmission and social distancing, traditional physical office visits are no longer feasible. In this time of uncertainty and risk the world is turning to telehealth, utilizing technology and strong networks to help facilitate remote diagnosis, patient monitoring, consultation and information sharing. The FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which is authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will provide $200 million in funding to help facilitate this new era of remote healthcare.

According to the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth website, here are some frequently asked questions and answers that explain the program:

Who’s eligible for funding?

Nonprofit and public health care providers within the following categories are eligible:

  • 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 first seven categories
What are some examples of eligible services applicants may seek funding for?
  • Telecommunications services and broadband connectivity services: voice services for health care providers or their patients
  • Information services: Internet connectivity services for healthcare providers or their patients; remote patient monitoring platforms and services; patient reported outcome platforms; store and forward services, such as asynchronous transfer of patient images and data for interpretation by a physician; platforms and services to provide synchronous video consultation
  • Connected devices and equipment: tablets, smart phones, or connected devices to receive connected care services at home (e.g., broadband-enabled blood pressure monitors; pulse oximetry monitors) for patient or healthcare provider use; or telemedicine kiosks/carts for healthcare provider sites

Here’s a link with more information on the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, including detailed instructions on submitting an application for funding.

As a telecommunications provider with a regional fiber network that spans an 11-state footprint, Great Plains Communications provides technology services and connections to more than 140 healthcare facilities already providing critical connected care services. If you require more network capacity to meet rising telehealth demands, we can help. Please click here to visit our telehealth page where you can learn more and request assistance from one of our industry experts.

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