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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has chosen 14 pilot programs over 11 states for the Connected Care Pilot Program, awarding applicants $26.6 million for their proposed projects.

The program started taking applications for a projected $100 million in awards in November. To be eligible, applicants needed to be nonprofit and public eligible health care providers that fit into the categories deemed “health care provider” in section 254(h)(7)(B) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, whether rural or non-rural.

The projects are designed to provide connected care services, particularly for low-income and veteran patients. The funding is part of the Universal Service Fund program. The awards are intended to help defray the costs of connected care services for eligible health care providers, including patient broadband internet access services; health care provider broadband data connections; other connected care information services; and certain network equipment.

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The first 14 awards include projects proposed by four universities, two community health centers and eight other organizations. The largest award was $5.8 million for the OCHIN Consortium with 15 sites in Ohio, 16 in Oregon and 13 in Washington. An OCHIN pilot project will provide patient broadband internet access and wireless connections to approximately 3,450 low-income patients to access connected care services.

The largest award to an individual entity was $4.46 million to the University of Virginia Health System to expand remote patient monitoring and telehealth services to an estimated 17,000 patients across Virginia, nearly 30% of whom are low-income.

“The events of the past year have highlighted that connectivity is critical to address current and future health challenges in this country, from chronic disease to COVID-19, in particular for our nation’s veterans and low-income Americans,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, in a prepared statement. “Today’s announcement lays the groundwork for this connected care future as these projects will help us better understand how telehealth can reduce costs and increase the quality of care, in areas of the greatest need across the country.”

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