More good news for telehealth, RPM in FCC approval of $100M Connected Care Pilot Program

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved relatively quickly to approve the Connected Care Pilot Program, approving broadband-enabled telehealth and remote patient monitoring services in underserved rural and remote areas. Funding for the program has been pegged at $100 million. The approval was unanimous on the program proposed by FCC commissioner Brendan Carr and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker.

CCPP will provide $100 million for subsidies to hospitals or wireless providers running post-discharge remote monitoring programs for low-income and rural Americans. An example is those run by the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The goal is to lower same-cause readmissions and improve patient outcomes. [TTA 13 July] Hearings late last month also were structured to support the program and start to fill out the details for a 2019 start [TTA 1 Aug].

Public comments are now open for a 2019 start to the program (see FCC website–look under Connect2Health which is the umbrella site for this and similar programs). Commissioner Carr had to look no further than the VA to see how Home Telehealth and other remote monitoring programs worked to drive down cost and improve patient outcomes. VA Health’s remote monitoring program cost $1,600 per patient compared to $13,000 for traditional care in one study. The trick is now translating this into an open system.

This is a nice boost to both real-time video and asynchronous remote patient monitoring in market development (and getting paid) in areas of great need. It’s also another Federal signal (so to speak) for 2019, following the proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule’s increased payments and broader applicability for both.  mHealthIntelligence, Mobihealthnews, FCC Release Hat tip to reader Paul Costello of Medopad.

Telemedicine reduced hospital readmissions by 40% in rural Virginia: UVA study

In last week’s Senate subcommittee hearings on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Universal Broadband Fund and Rural Healthcare (RHC) program, the University of Virginia’s Center for Telehealth chalked up some substantial results confirming the effectiveness of telemedicine in rural areas. In advocating further funding for an expansion of the program, they presented the following:

  • A 40 percent reduction in 30-day same cause hospital readmissions for patients with heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, stroke, and joint replacement
  • It enabled over 65,000 live interactive patient consultations and follow-up visits with high definition video within 60 different clinical subspecialties
  • Their home remote monitoring program included over 3,000 patients and screened more than 2,500 patients with diabetes for retinopathy
  • UVA delivered 100,000 teleradiology consults and provider-to-provider consults supported by the Epic EHR.

The UVA analysis also quantified travel savings in areas where medical and hospital care can be hours away–17 million miles of rural travel including 200,000 miles by high-risk pregnant mothers. For these mothers, NICU hospital days for the infants born to these patients were reduced by 39 percent compared to control patients and patient no-shows by 62 percent.

Karen Rheuban, MD, director and co-founder of the UVA Telehealth Center, recommended that the FCC continue to fund the RHC’s $400 million budget, with the caveat of exploring additional federal revenues should that budget be reduced. She also recommended that Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services be increased, the addition of wireless technologies, and including emergency providers and community paramedics in RHC funding. mHealth Intelligence, Subcommittee information and hearing video (archived webcast)

Broadband and health in USA

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been investigating [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/C2H-BroadbandMap_Gaps-America.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]the relationship between broadband and health in the US through their Connect2Health Task Force and this week it has released an online tool “Mapping Broadband Health in America”.
It is an interactive map that allows users to visualise, overlay and analyse broadband and health data at the national, state and county levels.

This tool allows easy access to existing health and broadband access data to anyone who wants to look at the possible influence of broadband access on health over a period of time or to identify gaps which may provide opportunities to develop or expand online health services.

The interactive tool allows the user change the broadband availability measure (by say proportion of coverage or download speed for example) and select a health measure such as say obesity rate or preventable hospitalisation days and shows where the selected broadband measure is satisfied, where the selected health measure is satisfied and where both are satisfied. The types of health measures are currently limited but if users find the tool useful and feedback to the FCC there may well be further expansion.

Have a play with the map here.

Telehealth is independent of broadband rollout – Australian DoH

We reported in September last year (Telehealth and Broadband in Australia) that the cost of the National Broadband Network in Australia was being debated with telehealth being proposed as a potential[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Parliament-of-australia-logo.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] justification. The Australian broadband rollout was very ambitious with fibre to the premises (FTTP), one of the costliest solutions, as the target. The Government has now lowered its sights and does not expect to connect all premises with FTTP.

Recently a series of questions were raised in the Australian Parliament on both the status of telehealth in Australia and the broadband programme and what impact, if any, the latter has on the first.  The written reply from the Australian Department of Health is not unexpected and enlightening. (more…)