Telehealth utilization among the commercially insured fell 16% from January to February, the first month-to-month drop since September, according to a tracker from nonprofit Fair Health.
The data suggests a potential slowdown in demand for virtual care services that spiked last year in the early months of COVID-19. Historically high levels of telehealth utilization spurred an unprecedented influx of cash into the digital health sector, but the sustainability of that boom depends in part on continued demand from consumers that could be waning as vaccinations increase and the pandemic wanes.
Mental health conditions continued to top the list of diagnoses. However, COVID-19, which joined the top five diagnoses list in December, dropped from the list, likely reflecting the national decline in cases in February.
How can you build a telehealth infrastructure for your community or organization?
The FCC is paying for telehealth infrastructure development for those who qualify
The Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), under the FCC’s oversight, announced they will administer a Round 2 of funding for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which promotes the use of telehealth for nonprofit and public eligible HCPs ranging from areas hard-hit by COVID-19, low-income, tribal communities, community hospitals, and more. As cost continues to be a barrier for organizations like these to implement telehealth, this next round of funding is a much-needed way to improve healthcare outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
The first round of funding, announced in 2020, resulted in more than 500 organizations receiving $200 million in total last summer to build out a telehealth infrastructure. In this second round, an additional $249 million will be allocated to at least one organization in each state and the District of Columbia to support the purchase of telehealth software, hardware, training and more–which will bring these communities improved access to quality healthcare.
Communities and organizations must apply within the one-week filing window for Round 2 funding which takes place from 12:00pm ET on April 29 through 12:00pm ET on May 6th.
Organizations that receive the funding–slated for up to $1 million each–are selected based on a scoring system that is focused on both rural and non-rural health clinics.
Let’s Talk Interactive is a full-service telehealth solutions provider and we are here to help organizations navigate this opportunity. If you are interested in applying for the funding, follow the below steps, which are also shared via USAC’s website. If you are awarded Round 2 Funding, please reach out to [email protected] or 844.431.9948 to get a custom recommendation on what services you should move forward with for your telehealth infrastructure.
Interested in applying? Follow these steps:
Who should apply?
The COVID-19 Telehealth Program is open to eligible HCP sites that treat patients, whether located in rural or non-rural areas or U.S. territories. The program is limited to nonprofit and public eligible HCPs that fall within the categories of HCPs in section 254(h)(7)(B) of the 1996 Telecommunications Act including:
Post-secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools;
Community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants;
Local health departments or agencies;
Community mental health centers (CMHCs);
Rural health clinics;
Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs); or
Consortia of HCPs consisting of one or more entities falling into the first seven categories.
How to apply
Request an eligibility determination form from USAC by filing an FCC Form 460. Only the lead health care provider site must complete this (for which they intend to purchase services or devices).
Applications are evaluated based on objective evaluation metrics. Eligible health care providers that receive funding awards will purchase eligible telehealth services and connected devices. After these are received, funding awardees must submit requests for reimbursement and other supporting documentation.
What are the eligible services and devices?
Telecommunications services and broadband connectivity
Information services — internet connectivity services for health care providers or their patients
Connected devices – tablets, smartphones, or connected devices to provide telehealth services for patient or health care provider use
Remember, not only can LTI develop your infrastructure, but we can provide all of the solutions necessary to bring it to life.
Need help with your submission? Complete this form and we will walk you through the process.