Temple University Health System (TUHS) was just awarded $900,000 for its COVID-19 Telehealth Program and the federal government has $132,000,000 still left to give away. The CARES Act authorized the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau to provide $200M in funding to urban and rural areas of the country to provide telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Our consultants worked with TUHS to submit their application and detailed plans for a remote monitoring platform, symptom diagnosis software, tablets, phones, and other telecommunications equipment to diagnose and treat patients who are COVID-19 suspected and/or confirmed. The funding will also be used to support telemedicine interventions for other patients who require consultation for specialty services or outpatient appointments. The FCC award announcement placed Temple Health among the top 10% (by amount) of all awards made by the FCC since the program’s inception. Akiro consultants worked alongside colleagues at Nectar Strategic Consulting to develop an integrated connected care services plan, document the services necessary to meet institutional telehealth needs, and construct a timeline for deployment and measurement of the program’s impact.
Akiro’s Brad Mondschein says that as the pandemic puts downward pressure on hospital operating budgets, federal and state grant programs are becoming a vital source of funding for critical new projects. ”Everyone’s talking about beefing up telemedicine and remote worker capabilities yet the dramatic decline in operating revenue is affecting funding sources for those initiatives. If you know where to look and can navigate the bureaucratic maze, those dollars are available.”
With 75% of FCC COVID-19 Telehealth program funds still available (along with $25 million of USDA Rural Telehealth funds and a new $100 million FCC Connected Care Pilot Program), the time to apply is now. Here’s a quick checklist of some things to keep in mind:
1. Coordinate the applications with the various clinical and technology departments within your organization. The available funds are limited to any one organization and ensuring that the funding being requested will bring the most benefit to the enterprise as a whole is critical.
2. Understand the application process including any prerequisites to applying. For example, the USDA requires a meeting with the USDA representative for your state. The FCC requires registration with numerous government agencies and programs.
3. Have a plan for implementation. While many funding sources will fund equipment and services supplied by third parties, the funds will not cover the internal and external needs of an organization to implement the telehealth program.
4. Have a plan for funding beyond the funding period. Many awards will fund the initial acquisition of equipment and services, some for as long as the first year. However, many programs will require that the program remain active for 3 years or more. Most applications require that the organization has access to funds for the entire period.
5. Understand reporting requirements. While obtaining a grant or other funding can be hugely beneficial, the funds come with strings attached. One string is the reporting requirements on the use of the funds. These reports can tax internal administrative resources and if not done correctly, can lead to investigation and issues with agency enforcement.
To learn more about the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program and view a complete list of funding recipients to date, visit https://www.fcc.gov/covid19telehealth. For government program assistance on this and other federal grant and loan programs, please click here.