CHIME, AEHIT Write to FCC Commissioner with Feedback on Connected Care Pilot Program

July 3, 2019
The senior executives of CHIME and AEHIT on July 2 wrote a letter to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, offering input on the FCC’s evolving Connected Care Pilot Program proposal

One year after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr on July 11, 2018 announced the establishment of the $100 million, “Connected Care Pilot Program” to support the development of telehealth services and delivery for low-income Americans, especially among rural and veteran populations, the leaders of the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), and its sister organization, the Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Technology (AEHIT), on July 2 wrote a letter to Chairman Carr expressing support for the program and offering detailed input.

The letter, signed by CHIME CEO and president Russell Branzell and AEHIT director of information technology and vice chair Clint Perkinson, began, “The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Technology (AEHIT) are pleased to offer our support for the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) work to advance access to healthcare services through telehealth to more Americans through the Commission’s $100 million Connected Care Pilot Program.”

Further, the two executives wrote, “In discussing FCC’s plans for this pilot, we would like to share some of the feedback we received from our members:

‘Because of the distance between our service area and pediatric specialists our hospital has the capability to conduct virtual visits with pediatric specialists employed by the Nemours Children’s Health System.  Our service area is located in a very rural part of the state and telehealth technology offers us the ability to monitor patients that are on a well plan post discharge to ensure they are doing all of the right things in order to avoid a readmission. (Delaware member)’

‘Telehealth is offering a new capability to better serve patients who have trouble getting to healthcare providers, whether they live in an underserved rural community 2 hours away or in the same city, but have significant transportation challenges.  Telehealth is not new, but the technology supporting telehealth has now evolved to make it both an effective clinical interaction environment and a cost efficient mechanism.  Programs, like the FTC’s Connected Care Pilot, that help healthcare providers figure out how to optimally weave the usage of telehealth into existing care pathways have the potential to enable greater and greater utilization, improving the overall quality of care and lowering the cost for not only underserved populations, but all patients. (San Diego, California member)’

‘We believe telehealth services are imperative for optimum health and well-being for at-risk, low-income patients residing in rural areas. We also believe that technology is a great avenue to innovate and improve care. We are committed to providing patients’ care, both on an inpatient and outpatient basis, with easy access to primary and specialty care within their local communities. (Pennsylvania member)’”

Branzell and Perkinson continued, “As evidenced by the above quotes, CHIME and AEHIT strongly support connected care technologies that can help reach patients who would otherwise be underserved, as well as, expanding the use of these technologies to help drive down healthcare costs. We agree with the FCC that, ‘It is critical that all Americans have access to these connected care services—whether enabled by existing broadband technologies or next-generation technologies, such as 5G,’ as outlined in your Notice of Inquiry published August 3, 2018. We agree with the FCC that too many American are living without broadband and this is hampering access to quality healthcare delivered via telehealth. And, we also agree that connected care technologies like mobile health hold significant promise in helping support better outcomes and in some cases can drive down costs.”

Importantly, the executives wrote, “Technology adoption and robust data sharing are vital to enhancing the quality of care and efficiency of the nation’s healthcare system…. The migration to the fifth generation of high-speed wireless networks, or 5G, will allow technologies to truly revolutionize healthcare. Removing today’s bandwidth limitations brings endless possibilities for the proliferation of telehealth and remote monitoring; the unleashing of augmented or artificial intelligence (AI) and big data; and, the optimization of healthcare operations. Untethering patients from the capabilities a traditional network will alter patient engagement and mitigate existing access challenges. Faster speeds combined with cloud-based storage will enable advanced digital networks capable of generating and leveraging large quantities of data in ways previously unimaginable. Care can be delivered virtually, anywhere at any time to anyone.”

The association executives continued, writing that “We furthermore agree with the FCC that ‘mobile applications also have the potential to improve health outcomes, and device manufacturers and app developers are responding to the shift towards providing connected health care at the patient’s location.” We are pleased that the FCC listened to our earlier feedback and incorporated mobile technologies into their proposal. With recent policies from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) aiming to better empower patients by requiring providers facilitate access to their medical records though application programming interfaces (APIs), as well as more policies that reimburse for remote health monitoring, mobile technology will become increasingly important to managing care.”