Finally, a big boost for rural telehealth comes to the ‘yea or nay’ stage. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connected Care Pilot Program, which was approved to proceed last August [TTA 9 Aug 18] with comments on the creation of the program, now moves to the next stage with a formal FCC vote on 10 July on the program itself. The FCC vote was announced by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, the co-proposer of the program with Mississippi’s Senator Roger Wicker, during a visit on Tuesday to a rural health clinic in Laurel Fork, Virginia.
The three-year program increases support for telehealth efforts aimed at low-income Americans in underserved regions and who are veterans, to increase their access to health technologies. Providers would be assisted in securing both technology and broadband resources needed to launch remote patient monitoring and telehealth programs.
Commissioner Carr quoted, in his rural health clinic visit, stats from multiple studies including the VA‘s long experience (since the early 2000s) with remote patient monitoring:
- A study of 20 remote patient monitoring trials found reductions of 20 percent in all-cause mortality and 15 percent in heart failure-related hospitalizations.
- A remote patient monitoring initiative (not attributed) reduced ER visits by 46 percent, hospital admissions by 53 percent, and in-patient stay length by 25 percent.
- The Veterans Health Administration’s remote patient monitoring program had reductions of 25 percent in days of inpatient care and a 19 percent in hospital admissions.
- In savings, a diabetes trial run by the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) saved nearly $700,000 annually in hospital readmissions. This extrapolated, based on 20 percent of Mississippi’s diabetic population, that Medicaid would save $189 million per year.
HealthLeaders Media also noted that at the July meeting, the FCC will vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking to seek comment on funding to defray the cost of healthcare providers joining the telehealth initiative and innovative pilot programs aimed at responding to critical health crises including diabetes management and opioids. Also mHealth Intelligence