The American Hospital Association recently sent a letter urging the Federal Communications Commission to streamline the administrative requirements of its Rural Health Care Pilot Program to make it easier for rural hospitals to connect with broadband services, Becker's Hospital Review reports (Roney, Becker's Hospital Review, 8/23).
About the Program
FCC launched its Rural Health Care Pilot Program in 2006 to help rural health care providers connect with urban health care providers through broadband networks (iHealthBeat, 8/14).
Participants in the program now include 2,107 individual rural and urban health care providers in 38 states and three territories (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 8/23).
In the letter, Linda Fishman -- AHA's senior vice president for public policy analysis and development -- wrote that the usefulness of FCC's rural health care program has been hindered by its limited scope and burdensome application and reporting requirements (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 8/24).
According to Fishman, hospitals have reported that the program's application requirements "are onerous and have resulted in significant delays." She added, "Individual participants are often small hospitals or rural health clinics with limited administrative capacity and technical resources" (Modern Healthcare, 8/23).
AHA recommended that FCC:
- Adopt policies to ensure that the program primarily benefits rural health care providers;
- Allow urban and for-profit health care providers to participate in the program as long as rural health care providers receive the most benefit; and
- Provide funding to help rural health care providers with demonstrated need connect to broadband services (FierceHealthIT, 8/24).