HHS invests $8M to address rural telehealth broadband gaps

HHS invests $8M to address rural telehealth broadband gaps
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The U.S. Department of Health announced Monday that it had awarded $8 million to fund the Telehealth Broadband Pilot (TBP) program.

Funded through the Health Resources and Services Administration, the TBP program assesses the broadband capacity available to rural health care providers and patient communities to improve their access to telehealth services.

“HHS has made it a priority to transform rural healthcare, including through innovations like telehealth, where we’ve seen many years’ worth of progress in just the past year,” said HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. “As someone who hails from rural America, supporting delivery of care in the most remote parts of America, like Alaska, is a personal passion of mine, and telehealth is a crucial part of that work. This telehealth pilot program is part of the Rural Action Plan that HHS launched this past year, which lays out a path forward to coordinate agency efforts to transform and improve rural health care in tangible ways.”

The program awarded $6.5 million to the National Telehealth Technology Assessment Resource Center (TTAC), based out of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and awarded $1.5 million to the Telehealth-Focused Rural Health Research Center through the University of Arkansas.

The TTAC will implement the TBP in four states – Alaska, Michigan, Texas, and West Virginia – and work with the Rural Telehealth Initiative’s federal partners to improve rural communities’ access to broadband and telehealth services through existing grants and other funding opportunities.

The Telehealth-Focused Rural Health Research Center will use its grant money to evaluate the TBP program across all participating communities and serve as a resource on telehealth for rural communities across the country.

HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) also awarded the Telehealth-Focused Rural Health Research Center through the University of Arkansas $1.5 million to evaluate the TBP program across all participating communities and to serve as a resource on telehealth for rural communities around the nation.

“We are excited to collaborate on this pilot program that will identify rural communities’ access to broadband to improve their ability to use telehealth services,” said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. “HRSA remains dedicated to helping rural communities build the capabilities to improve access to quality health care.”

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