In mid-2020, the FCC awarded $958,270 from its Covid-19 Telehealth Program to Banyan Community Health Center in Miami, FL, to help medically underserved areas in Miami-Dade and Broward counties by providing telehealth services to low-income and high-risk patients. The program enabled patients to receive medical care at home during the pandemic through Banyan’s Intensive Telehealth & Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) program, a separate unit designed to provide virtual visits & remote patient monitoring to patients with barriers (technology or cognitive) to telehealth.

On July 15, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr visited Banyan Community Health Center in Miami, FL, to see its FCC-funded telehealth and RPM program first-hand.

In a July 15 Tweet, Commissioner Carr praised Banyan Community Health’s success in providing remote monitoring services to patients most in need, posting: “Banyan Community Health in Miami went from zero telehealth visits in 2019 to *90k* in 2020 with Covid + social distancing. With FCC funding, they provided 500 connected kits to their low-income patients, among other steps, & saw a 60% reduction in hospital visits.”

Vivify Health Clinical Consultant Tina Null, MSN, RN, was on hand to help demonstrate the Vivify platform (see photo), which administers the RPM program for enrolled patients. “Banyan is passionate about delivering care to the underserved in the most innovative and courageous ways,” said Null. “Their gratefulness for having been awarded funds to bring their vision to life came through in the most authentic way and, I’m certain, landed powerfully with the Commissioner.” 

[Photo Caption] Banyan Little Havana Family Center: L-R: Elias Da Hora, ITU Operations, Banyan Health Systems; Jeffrey, T. King, RN, MBA, Chief Operating Officer & VP of 24-Hour Programming, Banyan Health Systems; Tina Null, MSN, RN, Clinical Consultant, Vivify Health; Brendan Carr, FCC Commissioner; Vince Carrodeguas, CPA, MBA, Chief Executive Officer & President, Banyan Health Systems; Marcia Young, EVP Outpatient Care, Vice President of Integrated Outpatient Programming, Banyan Health System

Behavioral health services critical to the success of FCC-funded telehealth program

Banyan’s ultimate objective was to improve care access. Therefore, in addition to patients with a primary care diagnosis, the program also enrolled all patients in Vivify’s Behavioral Health Pathway. Anyone requiring a virtual visit, especially those suffering from mental health conditions or opioid dependency, could easily hit a call button on their tablet.

Prior to implementing the program, patients were told, “If you are in any kind of crisis, just call this number,” said Jeffrey, T. King, RN, MBA, Chief Operating Officer & VP of 24-Hour Programming.However, he added, mental health patients never dialed the telephonic number. “Now, they simply touch a button on their tablet, and they can talk to someone live. We would not have been able to serve this population during the pandemic without this capability.”

FCC Round 2 funding overview

Vivify has been delivering RPM solutions for more than a decade and was proud to partner with Banyan Community Health Center in bringing telehealth services and remote monitoring to patients who needed it most. We look forward to continuing our work with Banyan and helping other telehealth grant recipients in 2021.

The FCC plans to award $249.95M in new funding to theCOVID-19 Telehealth Program, with costs covered up to 12 months. RPM platforms and services are eligible for funding. According to the Commission’s March 30, 2021, Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration, at least one applicant in each state and the District of Columbia will receive funding “to the extent feasible.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), 2021, passed on December 27, 2020, provides the Commission with additional funding for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The Program will consider funding for telecommunication services, information services, and devices necessary to provide critical connected care services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Telehealth Program, appropriated by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, initially granted $200 million in funding to healthcare providers during the pandemic to cover the cost of “connected care services to patients at home or in mobile locations.”

How does the Commission define connected care services? According to the First COVID-19 Report and Order, connected care services are a subset of telehealth that use “broadband Internet access service-enabled technologies to deliver remote medical, diagnostic, patient-centered, and treatment-related services directly to patients outside of traditional brick and mortar medical facilities, including specifically to patients at their mobile location or residence.”

For examples of eligible services and devices, as well as details on funding priority for Round 2, click here.

For information on how Vivify Health can help FCC grant recipients, visit www.vivifyhealth.com/FCC.

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