COVID-19 Broadband Resources: Healthcare Providers


Colorado Broadband Office News

Telehealth Resources

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Funding

USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program
The USDA opened a second application window for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. This window includes an additional $25 million appropriated through the CARES Act. Funds not awarded in round one will be rolled over into round two.

The USDA held a webinar on May 5, 2020, to update participants on the changes in the program, review eligibility and regulatory requirements and provide guidance on how to submit a successful application.

Important links:

Colorado Office of E-Health Innovation Telemedicine Funding
Up to $2 million has been awarded to the Office of eHealth Innovation (OeHI) for grants for existing and new telemedicine projects. The application window closed May 15, 2020. This new funding will increase access to health care and slow the spread of COVID-19 through coordinated access and use of telemedicine. Lessons learned from these funded projects will inform longer-term telemedicine policies and infrastructure to emergency response and coordinated care.

OeHI’s goal is to disperse telemedicine grant funding for select projects that advance the state’s immediate COVID emergency response needs via telemedicine and inform longer term telemedicine infrastructure and policy efforts. Telemedicine includes all forms of communication as outlined in HCPF’s Emergency Telemedicine Policy Changes. Per the emergency CMS federal fund match, all projects are required to be completed by September 30, 2020. 

Submitted projects will be reviewed and evaluated against criteria established by OeHI and HCPF. Entities that meet this criteria will be given priority consideration. Select organizations may be invited to present more detailed proposals to OeHI and HCPF.

FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program
The CARES Act appropriated $200 million to the FCC for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The FCC began accepting applications on April 13, 2020 and stopped accepting new applications on June 25, 2020.

On September 28, 2020, the FCC announced that it would extend the deadline for COVID-19 Telehealth Program (COVID-19 Program) recipients to purchase eligible devices and implement eligible services, from September 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The extension is in response to numerous requests from program recipients to extend the purchase/implementation deadline for the program.

The program funded 539 health care providers in 47 states for a total of $200 million in funding. Twelve Colorado healthcare providers serving the communities of Alamosa, Aurora, Boulder, Lafayette, Leadville, Montrose, Pueblo, Westminster, and Wheat Ridge, received over $3.9 million in awards:

  • Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc., in Alamosa, Colorado, was awarded $46,437 to implement video telehealth services to provide virtual health visits for COVID-19 screening and primary medical care to its vulnerable low-income and elderly patients.
  • Children’s Hospital Colorado, in Aurora, Colorado, with 14 locations throughout the state, was awarded $807,090 to implement telehealth services to provide continuity of medical care for children, adolescents, and young adults with complex pediatric illnesses in the Rocky Mountain region.
  • Clinica Colorado, in Westminster, Colorado, was awarded $10,231 for connected devices and network enhancements to provide telehealth via telephone and video conferencing for patients with chronic and acute conditions and to assess if patients need to be directed to a COVID-19 testing facility.  
  • Boulder Community Hospital, in Boulder, Colorado, was awarded $638,842 for video visit workstations for the hospital, telehealth platform software licenses, and remote monitoring equipment to provide home monitoring for COVID-19 patients and other high-risk patients, video visits for ambulatory, primary care, and urgent care clinics to screen for COVID-19, and tele-hospital visits that allow patients in the emergency department and inpatient units to use their own device to have a video visit with a physician.  
  • St. Vincent General Hospital District, in Leadville, Colorado, was awarded $2,796 for a telehealth platform subscription to deliver telehealth services to patients at the patient’s residence and increase access to care.
  • Colorado Rural Health Center, in Aurora, Colorado, was awarded $141,465 for telemedicine carts and videoconferencing equipment and licenses to enable its four rural clinics to provide preventative care, primary care, and behavioral healthcare.
  • Midwestern Colorado Mental Health Center, in Montrose, Colorado, was awarded $149,339 for laptop and desktop computers, videoconferencing equipment and software, and smartphones so health care providers can diagnose and treat patients for a variety of behavioral health conditions and provide a small number of acutely ill patients with a smartphone and conferencing application to maintain care remotely.
  • University of Colorado Health, in Aurora, Colorado, was awarded $998,250 for wearable remote monitoring devices so staff in the ICU and other departments can track their own temperature and other vital signs to reduce COVID-19 infections, and for patient monitoring devices that allow staff to conduct remote patient care.
  • Clinica Family Health, in Lafayette, Colorado, was awarded $182,347 for a remote access platform, a telehealth platform, network upgrades, and videoconferencing software that would support the full scope of primary medical care capabilities by using telehealth and remote care so as to maintain access to medical treatments while also mitigating the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Sisters of Charity Leavenworth Health System, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, was awarded $730,008 for smartphones, tablets, videoconferencing equipment, and various monitoring and telehealth platforms and applications with which providers can remotely assess COVID-19 patients, conduct remote monitoring for high-risk patients by using specially configured technology kits, offer patients access to medical care and opinions from providers anywhere, and educate people and answer questions about COVID-19.  
  • Community Reach Center, in Westminster, Colorado, was awarded $223,569 for laptop computers for both patients and therapists to ensure continuity of care for patients who can adhere to stay-at-home recommendations and continue with care appointments with clinicians, and to allow staff members to work from remote locations to ensure their safety during COVID-19.
  • Spanish Peaks Behavioral Health Centers, in Pueblo, Colorado, was awarded $55,380 for laptop computers, videoconferencing equipment and software licenses, tablets, and smartphones to increase telehealth capabilities for remote new patient exams, medication management, treatment of chronic conditions, and other care services.
Rural Health Care (RHC): Additional Relief Provided to HCPs Due to COVID-19
On March 26, 2020, the FCC released an Order granting additional relief to Rural Health Care (RHC) Program participants to ensure that health care providers (HCPs) have the resources they need to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the Order takes the following actions:

  1. extends the FY2020 RHC Program application filing window until June 30, 2020;
  2. eases competitive bidding requirements for HCPs with expiring evergreen contracts; and
  3. provides an extension of procedural deadlines to respond to information requests, to deliver non-recurring services in the HCF Program, to file invoices in the HCF Program, and to file appeals to USAC and the FCC.

For more information, review the one-page summary of FCC Order DA 20-345

Connected Care Pilot Program

Funding Available: $100 Million
Application Deadline: Deadline has not been announced
Website: https://www.usac.org/rural-health-care/additional-program-guidance/covid-19-response/

On March 31, 2020, the FCC adopted final rules to stand up a Connected Care Pilot Program. This three-year Pilot Program will provide up to $100 million of support from the Universal Service Fund (USF) to help defray health care providers’ costs of providing connected care services and to help assess how the USF can be used in the long-term to support telehealth.

The program will provide an 85% match and eligible costs include broadband connectivity, network equipment and information services to provide connected care to target groups. Priority will be given to low-income and veteran patients. 

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) will determine eligibility for the program using the existing FCC Form 460. Participants can be located in rural and non-rural areas, but must meet the other RHC Program eligibility requirements. Eligible health care providers can then submit applications for the Connected Care Pilot Program.


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