FCC Telehealth Program Creating Real Positive Changes in Medical Care, Says Trade Association Rep

The program has allowed more providers to open telehealth services and is creating more audio-only sessions.

FCC Telehealth Program Creating Real Positive Changes in Medical Care, Says Trade Association Rep
Photo of Robert Primosch, Nathan Eagan, and Shira Hollander in the Zoom Webinar on Monday.

WASHINGTON, February 1, 2022 – An executive at the American Hospital Association on Monday praised the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to disburse money to telehealth needs, which she said benefited the field in several ways.

Shira Hollander, senior associate director of policy development at the industry trade group that includes nearly 5,000 hospitals, said at a Federal Communications Bar Association event that the changes she’s seen include increasing options for audio-only telehealth appointments and a wider range of providers providing telehealth services.

Hollander explained the additional benefits of telehealth care, including a “continuity of care” to patients with a “significant drop in cancelled appointments,” an “increase in access to care” for unserved and underserved areas, and help in “providing extra capacity” for healthcare providers, especially in rural areas.

Additionally, the changes brought about by these new funds are hoped to be “catalysts” for future solutions, Hollander said. These solutions are meant to “help in long-term” healthcare.

That being said, Hollander continued, the rise in telehealth “underscores the need for broadband access” and equality.

“Access doesn’t mean equality,” said Hollander.

There were two rounds of applications and funding for the Covid-19 Telehealth Program. The first round, which took place in early 2020, provided 539 funding commitments to healthcare providers and a total $200 million in funding. The second round saw nearly 2,000 applications and resulted in 437 funding commitments to healthcare providers, a total of $256 million in funding. In this round, applications were scored in order of priority, with applications from hotspots of Covid-19, critical access hospitals, and tribal, rural, or low income areas taking first priority.