HHS, FCC and USDA launch joint rural telehealth initiative: 3 details

HHS, FCC and USDA on Sept. 1 signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on efforts to improve telehealth services and address health disparities in rural areas.

The Rural Telehealth Initiative ultimately aims to use telehealth to supplement gaps in the healthcare system for rural Americans, who have been impacted by hospital closures and lack of specialty care.

Three details:

1. The Rural Telehealth Initiative stems from President Donald Trump’s Aug. 3 executive order to improve rural health and telehealth access by making certain services permanent once the COVID-19 public emergency ends.

2. The three agencies will work together to share information to address health disparities, resolve service provider challenges and expand broadband services and technologies to rural areas.

3. As part of the memorandum of understanding, HHS, FCC and USDA plan to establish an interagency Rural Telehealth Task Force that comprises representatives from each agency. The task force will meet regularly to discuss future recommendations or guidelines for the telehealth efforts as well as share technical information and data on task force efforts.