Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a novel coronavirus that has not been previously identified. Symptoms include cough, difficulty breathing, fever, and mild to severe respiratory illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the virus currently seems to be easily spreading throughout communities in the United States (community spread), meaning “some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed”.
Telehealth can help address COVID-19 and other pandemic situations by limiting exposure to infection for vulnerable populations and health care workers. Telehealth can also expand the reach of resources to communities that have limited access to needed services. This allows patients to receive health services away from settings where potential for contracting infectious diseases are high, such as hospitals, health clinic waiting rooms, private practices, etc. Our Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) have compiled and developed resources specific to their regions.
Telehealth Tools and Resources
Several organizations developed resources that can help set up telehealth programs to address COVID-19. Some of the resources offered are focused on COVID-19. Also included are videos and toolkits that address telehealth etiquette, technology, implementation, and a directory that lists telehealth providers. Lastly, the American Medical Association (AMA) have provided a quick telemedicine implementation guide to support physicians and practices in expediting telehealth services.
The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers has developed a COVID-19 Telehealth Toolkit, designed to provide studies reflecting telehealth models that may apply to treating COVID-19, an overview of telehealth policy, and additional resources.
The Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center offers a comprehensive overview of telehealth implementation addressing COVID-19.
The FCC launched a new telehealth program using $200 million in federal funding to improve connected health services as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program offers qualified healthcare providers the means to provide connected care services to patients by fully funding their telecommunications services, information services, and devices. Funding is provided on a first-come-first-serve basis and will be available until funds have been expended or the pandemic has ended.
Guidance on the application process for FCC funding can be found here:
Healthcare providers interested in participating must obtain an eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) for each healthcare provider site included in their applications. Eligibility determination can be obtained by filing FCC Form 460 with USAC.
Applications can be filed through a dedicated application portal, which will be available beginning Monday April 13, 2020 at 12:00 PM ET on the COVID-19 Telehealth Program page at www.fcc.gov/covid19telehealth.