On February 2, 2018, HIMSS and the Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHAlliance) collaborated in a letter to provide a response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Promoting Telehealth in Rural America Proposed Rule. In the letter HIMSS and PCHAlliance provided comments and recommendations in an effort to assist the FCC in continuing to find ways to improve access to high quality healthcare in rural America, while simultaneously ensuring that rural healthcare providers get the support they need, guarding against waste, fraud, and abuse.
HIMSS and PCHAlliance noted that as technology and telehealth assume an increasingly critical role in healthcare delivery, a well-designed Rural Healthcare (RHC) Program is more vital than ever. By improving rural healthcare provider access to modern communications services, the RHC Program can help in overcoming some of the obstacles to healthcare delivery faced in isolated communities. HIMSS and PCHAlliance applaud the efforts by FCC’s Connect2Health FCC Task Force, which has illustrated the significant impact communications services can have on addressing the healthcare needs of persons living in rural and underserved areas, and how communities are leveraging broadband-enabled health technologies to improve access to health and care throughout the country.
As previously laid out in the HIMSS 2017 Congressional Asks, and reiterated in this letter, HIMSS and PCHAlliance, strongly encourage the FCC to adopt policies that prepare the RHC Program to support technologies beyond telehealth where possible, within statutory limitations, and in a manner that preserves or increases the total available funding for the RHC Program. They also urged the FCC to adapt the RHC Program to complement and support other federal programs designed to ensure the health of rural Americans.