Connected Care Pilot Program
In its Report and Order FCC 20-44 released on April 2, 2020, the FCC established a new three-year Connected Care Pilot Program which will provide up to $100 million of support from the Universal Service Fund (USF) to help defray eligible health care providers’ costs of providing connected care services and help assess how USF funds might be used to support connected care services. The FCC is in the process of implementing the Connected Care Pilot Program.
The Connected Care Pilot will provide funding for selected pilot projects to cover 85% of the eligible costs of broadband connectivity, certain network equipment (e.g., network equipment needed to make a support broadband service functional, such as a router), and information services necessary to provide connected care services to the intended patient population. In selecting pilot projects from eligible health care providers (HCPs), the FCC has a strong preference for pilot projects that will primarily benefit low-income Americans or veterans.
The Connected Care Pilot Program application window closed on December 7, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
On January 15, 2021, the FCC announced the first set of selected pilot projects. Further project selections will be announced at a later date. The FCC or USAC will provide selected projects additional information around next steps, required forms, and funding timelines.
Next Steps for Selected Applicants
Information and resources concerning the next steps for selected pilot projects is coming soon. Selected pilot projects will be provided information on the timing of next steps.
Selected pilot projects will use the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program forms, with slight revisions, to initiate the competitive bidding process, request funding, and submit invoices. To prepare for the next steps, we encourage selected pilot projects to familiarize themselves with the HCF Program forms for competitive bidding, funding requests, and invoicing. Download blank HCF Program forms. Selected pilot projects should not file these forms until they receive further instruction.
All forms and supporting documentation will be submitted in My Portal, USAC’s online application management system used for the RHC program. Selected pilot projects gained access to My Portal when they submitted the FCC Form 460 for the sites participating in their pilot project.
Selected pilot projects will be required to conduct a fair and open competitive bidding process to solicit and select eligible services and/or equipment. Selected pilot projects will be required to identify the services needed and develop the bid evaluation criteria that will be used to assess service provider bids by completing the FCC Form 461 (Request for Services Form).
Once your FCC Form 461 is approved, it will be posted on the USAC public website for a minimum of 28 days before you can select a service provider and sign a contract. All posted services are available on the USAC public website for service providers to view and download. Service providers interested in providing your site with the requested services will respond to your posting with a bid demonstrating how they meet your evaluation criteria. You must submit the FCC Form 461 unless you meet one of the competitive bidding exemptions. To learn more, visit the exemptions page.
Once competitive bidding is complete, you will select the most cost-effective service and submit an FCC Form 462 (Funding Request Form) to USAC with specific pricing and service information for the funding you are requesting through the Connected Care Pilot Program.
USAC will review the funding requests and issue Funding Commitment Letters (FCLs) to you and your service provider indicating the amount committed under the Connected Care Pilot Program.
After providing the eligible services and/or equipment, you and your service provider will certify and submit invoicing forms (FCC Form 463), along with supporting documentation, to USAC. Once approved, the service provider will receive reimbursement for the cost of the eligible services and/or equipment they have provided to you.
What are “Connected Care Services” and what is eligible for support?
The FCC defines “connected care services” as “a subset of telehealth that uses 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.”
On November 5, 2020, the FCC released Public Notice DA 20-1315, further elaborating on eligible services, highlighted in the below table. Please note that this table is illustrative and is not intended to be exhaustive.
|Patient Broadband Internet Access Services/Health Care Provider Broadband Data Connections||New or upgraded broadband connections (whether for health care provider or participating patients) necessary for connected care services for the Pilot Program.||
|Other Connected Care Information Services||Services for connected care that capture, generate, acquire, transmit (including video visits), retrieve, and store health care data for connected care. This includes information services with “store-and-forward” technology, patient reported outcome platforms, and remote patient monitoring capabilities to monitor patients.||
|Network Equipment||Certain network equipment necessary to make newly acquired or upgraded Internet service for the HCP/Patient for the Pilot Program functional (e.g., routers) or necessary to manage, control, or operate a supported broadband service.||
|Miscellaneous||Various miscellaneous costs associated with eligible services listed above may be eligible for support. Applicants should request eligible miscellaneous services in the same category as the associated service being obtained or installed.||
Ineligible Services: The Connected Care Pilot will not provide funding for devices, including end-user connected devices (e.g., tablets, smart phones or remote patient monitoring equipment), medical equipment, HCP administrative costs, personnel costs (including, but not limited to medical professional costs), or other miscellaneous expenses. The Connected Care Pilot will also not fund network deployment, the construction of networks between HCPs, or connectivity services between HCP sites.