The US’ telecoms regulatory body, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has announced a $200 million e-health programme to support hospitals and healthcare providers during the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic.
The Covid 19 Telehealth Programme will help healthcare providers purchase telecommunications, broadband connectivity and devices necessary for providing telehealth services. Funding applications from healthcare providers will be processed on a rolling basis.
In addition to the Covid 19 Telehealth Programme, the FCC has also approved the final rules to stand up a Connected Care Pilot Programme. This separate three-year Pilot Programme will provide up to $100 million of support from the Universal Service Fund (USF) to help health care providers’ costs of providing connected care services.
“Our nation’s healthcare providers need us more than ever, and we at the FCC are answering the call. With the adoption of the $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Programme, the FCC can now take immediate steps to provide funding so that more patients can be treated at home, freeing up valuable hospital beds for those who most need them and reducing the risk of exposure to the virus,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.
“In addition, the new Connected Care Pilot Programme will help us to look to the future and determine how universal service support can shepherd telehealth services into a new era of healthcare delivery. I’d like to thank my colleagues at the FCC for voting expeditiously to adopt these two programmes. More than ever, we need to work together to address the needs of the American people in the face of this increasingly challenging time.”
The FCC has recently announced a raft of measures to ensure that Americans can remain connected during the Covid 19 pandemic. Under its Keep America Connected initiative, the FCC has asked the country’s telcos to refrain from disconnecting any customers who fall behind on their broadband payments during the Coronavirus pandemic.