On January 15, 2021 and June 17, 2021, the Commission selected Pilot projects to participate in the Connected Care Pilot Program in Public Notice FCC 21-12, and Public Notice FCC 21-71. Selected Pilot projects should have received an email notifying them of their selection to participate in the Connected Care Pilot Program along with a copy of the Public Notice. If your application was selected, but you did not receive an email, please contact ConnectedCare@fcc.gov.
Detailed information on the next steps, including competitive bidding, submitting funding requests, and invoicing is provided on the Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC) webpage and in Report and Order FCC 21-74. For questions about the required forms and next steps, please contact USAC at RHC-Assist@usac.org.
Selected Pilot Projects
Selection to participate in the Connected Care Pilot Program does not guarantee funding for any specific items included in your application for the Pilot Program. Following the submission of a formal Request for Funding to USAC for your pilot project, USAC will review your Funding Requests and make final determinations regarding the eligibility of the services requested before committing funding to each Pilot project.
USAC’s website provides additional information on the next steps including complying with the competitive bidding requirements, submitting formal funding requests, submitting invoices, and the data reporting requirements. If you have any questions about the next steps, please direct them to USAC at email@example.com. USAC will also hold webinars concerning the next steps.
Participating Pilot projects may receive funding for eligible services only. Expenses included in Pilot project applications are not guaranteed to be deemed eligible when USAC reviews a Request for Funding. Selected Pilot projects should review the list of eligible services to determine whether the item they seek funding for will be funded.
Pilot Program funding is limited to the following categories of eligible services:
(1) patient broadband Internet access services;
(2) health care provider broadband data connections;
(3) connected care information services; and
(4) certain network equipment (i.e., network equipment necessary to make a supported broadband service functional and, for consortium applicants, network equipment necessary to manage, control, or operate a supported broadband service).
The Pilot Program will not fund devices, including end-user connected devices (e.g., tablets, smart phones, or remote patient monitoring equipment), medical equipment, health care provider administrative costs, personnel costs (including, but not limited to medical professional costs), or other miscellaneous expenses. The Pilot Program also will not fund network deployment, the construction of networks between health care providers, internal connections and/or connectivity services between health care provider sites. Health care providers participating in the Pilot Program must cost allocate all ineligible services and/or equipment that are included in bundles, packages, or suites of services used in Pilot Program projects.
For additional information concerning eligible services for the Pilot Program, please see the Commission’s Report and Order (FCC 20-44), Second Report and Order (FCC 21-74) the Bureau’s November 2020 Public Notice (DA 20-1315), and the Eligible Services chart.
Overview of the Process – What to Expect
Selected Pilot projects can begin their competitive bidding process for eligible services and network equipment. Pilot Program participants are required to comply with applicable program requirements, including competitive bidding requirements, and procedures as set forth in the Commission’s Report and Order (FCC 20-44), the Commission’s Second Report and Order (FCC 21-74), the Bureau’s September 2020 Public Notice (DA 20-1019), the Bureau’s November 2020 Public Notice (DA 20-1315), and any further Orders or Public Notices concerning the Pilot Program. Selected Pilot projects can expect to use the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program forms, with slight revisions, to initiate the competitive bidding process, request funding, and submit invoices.
An overview of the post-selection process for Pilot projects:
- Competitive Bidding - Selected Pilot projects can now begin their competitive bidding process for eligible services and network equipment. Questions concerning the competitive bidding process and competitive bidding exemptions should be directed to USAC at RHC-Assist@usac.org.
- Develop Bid Evaluation Criteria & Select Services - Identify the services you need and develop the bid evaluation criteria you will use to assess service provider bids by completing the FCC Form 461 (Request for Services Form).Pilot projects can seek bids for one-year at a time, or up to the full three years of the Pilot Program.
- Initiate Competitive Bidding Process – Submit FCC Form 461 - Once approved, your FCC Form 461 must be posted on the USAC public website for a minimum of 28 days before you can select a service provider and sign a contract. All posted services are available on the USAC public website for service providers to view and download. Service providers interested in providing your site with the requested services will respond to your posting with a bid demonstrating how they meet your evaluation criteria.You must file an FCC Form 461 unless you meet one of the competitive bidding exemptions.Additional information on the limited competitive bidding exemptions is provided in paragraphs 75 to 76 of the First Report and Order, and paragraph 25 of the Second Report and Order.
- Evaluate Bids and Select Service Provider - After USAC posts the FCC Form 461 (Request for Services Form) on the USAC website for a minimum of 28 days, you will evaluate all bids received during the competitive bidding period and choose the most cost-effective solution. For purposes of the Pilot Program, “cost-effective” is defined as the method that costs the least after consideration of the features, quality of transmission, reliability, and other factors that the health care provider deems relevant to choosing a method of providing the required health care services. When choosing the most “cost-effective” bid, price must be a primary factor, but need not be the only primary factor. A non-price factor may receive an equal weight to price but may not receive a greater weight than price.
- Submit Funding Requests – Submit FCC Form 462 - Once you select a service provider and sign a contract, you will then submit the FCC Form 462 (Funding Request Form). The FCC Form 462 provides information to USAC about the services or equipment selected, as well as how much funding you are requesting.USAC will only approve funding for eligible services.
- Review your Funding Commitment Letter (FCL) - Once your funding request is approved, USAC emails a Funding Commitment Letter (FCL) to all account holders and service providers associated with that funding request number (FRN).
- Invoice USAC – Submit FCC Form 463 - Once you receive a bill from the service provider, you can create an invoice for the services received using the FCC Form 463. Invoice submissions will require certain certifications from the participating health care providers and service providers.While monthly invoices are not required, the Commission strongly encourages Pilot Program participants to submit invoices on a monthly basis when possible.
Data and Reporting
Pilot Program participants must retain documents relevant to their participation in the Pilot Program for at least five years after the end of their respective Pilot project, and may be subject to audits and other reviews that the Commission and other appropriate authorities may undertake periodically to ensure that committed funds are being used in accordance with such requirements and for their intended purpose.
Pilot Program participants are required to submit three total reports: an annual report after their first year of funding, after their second year of funding, and a final report after their third year of funding that contains data for the third year of funding, summarizes final results, and explains whether goals of the Pilot project were met and how the Pilot project served the Commissions’ goals for the program. We expect that Pilot Program participants will be asked to report data such as: the number of patients served and percentage of those who were low-income and veteran patients; changes from the estimated patient population; progress in meeting the project’s goals and objectives; impact of funding on number of patients treated with connected care; patient satisfaction with connected care and with health status; changes in treatment adherence; reductions in emergency room or urgent care visits; decreases in hospital admissions, re-admissions or lengths of stay; reductions or improvements in condition-specific outcomes or acute incidents among those who suffer from a chronic illness; impact of funding patient broadband connections; decreases in missed appointments; estimated cost-savings for health care providers and patients; reduced patient travel or time (e.g., reduction in travel time or time missed from work); and other metrics that may demonstrate progress toward achieving the Pilot Program’s goals, and general feedback on program administration. We expect that the final report from Pilot Program participants will, at a minimum, include an overall summary of the information in the annual reports, an explanation of how the project helped advance the goals and objectives of the Pilot Program, an explanation of whether the Pilot project met its specific goals and objectives, information on any lessons learned concerning the provision and utilization of connected care services, and, particularly for low-income patients and veterans, lessons learned concerning patient retention, patient training, and how best to address digital literacy challenges.
The specific data to be reported by Pilot projects and the format of the required data will be determined and announced by the Bureau in a public order or notice at a later date.
Next Steps - Questions
- When is the start date for the Pilot Program?
The start date for each Pilot project is the respective date that each Pilot project begins to receive recurring services that are funded through the Pilot program. Following the selection of a vendor through competitive bidding (unless an exemption applies), each Pilot project must formally request funding for eligible services and network equipment through the FCC Form 462 (Funding Request Form).USAC will review the FCC Form 462 and issue Funding Commitment Letters for eligible services and network equipment.
- Can I start my pilot project once I have been selected?
Participating Pilot projects can proceed to the competitive bidding process after selection. Pilot projects can begin to receive services after receiving a Funding Commitment Letter from USAC.
- Can I start competitively bidding and signing contracts with vendors?
Selected Pilot projects may now begin the competitive bidding process for eligible services and network equipment.
Selected Pilot projects should familiarize themselves with the applicable program requirements, including competitive bidding requirements, and procedures as set forth in the Commission’s Report and Order (FCC 20-44), Second Report and Order (FCC 21-74), the Bureau’s subsequent September 2020 Public Notice (DA 20-1019), November 2020 Public Notice (DA 20-1315), and any further Orders or Public Notices concerning the Pilot Program. USAC will conduct webinars for selected Pilot projects concerning the competitive bidding process.
- What is the expected timeline for the pilot program to start?
Selected projects can now proceed with the competitive bidding process in accordance with the processes outlined in the Second Report and Order.
- Is there going to be training or webinars for selected pilot projects?
Yes. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) will announce webinars for selected pilot projects to participate in on its website.
- What should I do if my organization can no longer participate in the Pilot Program?
If your organization can no longer participate, please contact ConnectedCare@fcc.gov as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after becoming aware that your organization is no longer able to participate in the Pilot Program.
- Who can I contact if I have additional questions?
Please contact ConnectedCare@fcc.gov for general questions about the Pilot Program. Please contact USAC at RHC-Assist@usac.org for questions about the competitive bidding, funding request and invoicing processes, and related forms.