The telehealth response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow as the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau invested $8.36 million in 33 projects through the COVID-19 telehealth program.

The awards went to healthcare providers in 18 states. Eight states had more than one project, including Texas (2), New York (4), Georgia (3), Illinois (3), Kansas (2), Florida (2), California (3) and Alabama (2) .

This was the sixth announcement by the program, which focuses on need in both rural and urban areas. So far, the program – which is funded by the CARES Act that was passed to fight the pandemic in March – has funded 82 healthcare providers in 33 states. So far, $33.26 million has been funded.

FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Projects
The biggest project in the current batch of awards was in Marshall, Texas. Genesis PrimeCare, which has sites throughout the rural northeast region of the state, was awarded $990,716 to provide comprehensive primary healthcare, pediatric care and behavioral health services through video and voice telehealth consultations. It also will provide remote patient monitoring and treatment to severe low income and underserved patients.

On the other side of the scale, the smallest award was made to the Bethesda Community Clinic in Canton, Georgia. The organization was awarded $5,886 for connected devices and telecommunications services to provide telemedicine to assess patient health, provide full-service office visits with professionals, refill prescriptions and determine if a patient needs testing for COVID-19.

The new awards bring the two-week total to 59. Last week, the bureau made 26 awards worth $11.19 million. That followed 24 awards in April worth $11.14 million.

While the immediate need is overwhelming and the center focus of the projects, it is worth noting that it is likely that telehealth and telemedicine are carving out a far brighter long-term future due to their use during the pandemic. The benefits of providing significant diagnostic and monitoring without making people travel to and take up space in hospitals have long been acknowledged. The success of the sector has been mixed, however. One small silver lining from the current crisis is that these approaches likely will get a permanent boost.

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