Promoting Telehealth and Relevant Federal Programs
In 2019, the FCC, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), conducted meetings and workshops to encourage the adoption of telehealth services in rural communities and to promote the use of Federal programs that help to improve broadband connectivity. For the FCC, the federal program that is most relevant to this effort is the Rural Health Care Program.
Specifically, the FCC's Connect2Health Task Force (C2HFCC) is engaged in ongoing efforts to provide expert input and information to stakeholders from a variety of states throughout the country about the importance of broadband and broadband-enabled technologies (e.g., telehealth, remote monitoring, etc.) in health care at various telehealth resource center annual conferences. The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers (NCTRC), funded by HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is comprised of 12 regional and two national Telehealth Resource Centers who work to lead the advancement and accessibility of telehealth with a focus in rural healthcare.
This engagement is part of an interagency effort with HRSA and HHS. Dr. M. Chris Gibbons, Special Advisor to the Task Force, represented the Task Force at several public events including the following:
South Central Telehealth Resource Center
The South Central Telehealth Resource Center (SCTRC) serves Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The Institute for Digital Health & Innovation at the The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, along with the SCTRC, hosted the South Central Telehealth Forum August 19-20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. This two-day educational event drew health care professionals and organizations who want to develop or expand connected health technology to improve patient outcomes. Presentations focused on remote patient monitoring, direct-to-patient care, regulatory updates, Federally Qualified Health Centers,and opioid and substance abuse programs. Dr. Gibbons provided the keynote address titled: "Healthcare and Future of Telehealth."
Northeast Telehealth Resource Center
The Northeast Telehealth Resource Center is federally funded to provide technical assistance to develop, implement, and expand telehealth services in New England, New York and New Jersey. The Resource Center represents eight states in the region and held its fifth annual conference June 18-19, 2019 in Portland, Maine. This event drew 200 attendees from throughout the region and focused on the topics of legal and regulatory issues, business planning, clinical use cases, provider and consumer engagement. Dr. Gibbons provided the keynote address titled: "Vision for the Future of Medicine – The Promise of Digital Health and How We'll Get There."
Telehealth Technology Summit
The Telehealth Technology Summit, held December 12-13, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana, was a collaborative effort of HRSA-funded Telehealth Resource Centers, including Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center, South Central Telehealth Resource Center, Heartland Telehealth Resource Center, TexLa Telehealth Resource Center and the National Telehealth Resource Center for Technology Assessment. Topics included connectivity challenges; assessing technology; tech vendor contracting; FDA device regulation and certification; FDA software as a medical device; reimbursement opportunities for remote patient monitoring; and many others. Dr. Gibbons offered a keynote address at this event.
Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center
The Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center (SETRC) provides an applied approach to the telehealth education and technical assistance services to rural health care providers, facilities, and organizations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, in order to streamline implementation and better utilize telehealth applications and technology in the region. Dr. Gibbons offered a keynote titled "Healthcare and the Future of Telehealth," at the Florida Telehealth Summit which was held in St. Pete Beach, Florida, November 7-9, 2018.
Future telehealth events will be announced as appropriate.