The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), US Department of Health and Human Services, and US Department of Agriculture signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on the Rural Telehealth Initiative, a joint effort to collaborate and share information to address health disparities, resolve service provider challenges, and promote broadband services and technology to rural areas in America.
Rural Americans are acutely affected by gaps in the healthcare system, from hospital closures to a lack of specialty care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rural Americans, who make up more than 15 percent of the US population, face numerous health disparities compared with their urban counterparts. Telemedicine plays an increasingly critical part in treating patients, improving health outcomes, lowering costs, and helping healthcare providers maximize their impact on their communities, especially in rural areas of the United States.
“From the beginning of my tenure at the FCC, I’ve heard and shared the view that telemedicine is a game-changer for rural America,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made the rural healthcare challenge even more serious and has complicated healthcare providers’ efforts to serve rural Americans. More than ever, these areas of the country need enhanced connectivity to provide vital health services to residents. With the adoption of the $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the FCC acted quickly to approve 539 funding applications for a wide array of health care providers, including community health centers, mental health clinics, and non-profit hospital systems in both rural and urban areas of the country.”
To read the Memorandum of Understanding, visit the HHS website.