WASHINGTON – A panel of industry experts convened at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center last week to discuss the proposed $100 million Connected Care Pilot Program recently announced by the Federal Communications Commission.
The program would support telehealth for low-income Americans, especially those living in rural areas and veterans, by increasing their connectivity.
“This program has the potential to accelerate virtual health adoption,” said Joel Barthelemy, founder and CEO of telehealth technology provider GlobalMed, in an interview prior to the meeting.
Barthelemy was part of a panel that also included: Mark Liber, academy manger at StartUp Health; Shannon Murphy, director of federal health solutions at Microsoft; and David Cattell-Gordon, director of telemedicine at the Karen S. Rheuban Center for Telehealth in the University of Virginia Health System.
While still in the planning stages, the program would support rural connectivity not just to clinics and facilities, but also to individual patients.
Barthelemy said that expanding access to telehealth in rural areas benefits both the patients and struggling health care providers in those areas.
“Forced to transport patients to other cities for specialty care, rural facilities already struggle to stay afloat, watching the income from their most profitable patients literally flying out the door,” he said. “Telehealth technology has saved dozens of hospitals from shuttering.
The FCC will vote on a notice of inquiry about the program at its August open meeting. The program’s time has come, said Brendan Carr, FCC Commissioner, at the meeting.
“For the first time, we now have technology that can make a difference,” he said.