While the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed $ 100 million telehealth pilot program is a critical step towards advancing connected care, the FCC must limit the data collection and reporting requirements on healthcare providers if the initiative is to succeed.
That’s the contention of the American Hospital Association, which submitted written comments to the FCC on the three-year Connected Care Pilot Program meant to boost the use of telehealth for low-income patients, veterans and rural Americans.
Under the proposed pilot, the FCC wants to gather data on the types of connected care services that are most effective in terms of their benefits, costs and savings.
“In principle, the AHA does not disagree that the pilot program should include a data gathering and reporting requirement to measure whether the program is achieving its goals by permitting evaluation of connected care’s impact on healthcare outcomes,” states AHA’s comments to the FCC. “But, those requirements must achieve the proper balance between the value of the information and the additional regulatory burden that data collection and reporting will impose on healthcare providers that participate in the program.”
Specifically, AHA wants the FCC to take the following actions:
- Allow program participants to report data on an aggregated basis.
- Limit any data reporting requirements to annual reporting, without mandating that program participants conduct clinical trials.
- Adopt simple and realistic metrics for measuring a project’s success.
- Make funding available for—at a minimum—administrative expenses, internal connections, network equipment, end-user devices, medical devices and mobile applications.
“A quarterly or even semi-annual reporting requirement may prove to be excessive for smaller or rural providers that already are committing a sizable portion of their budgets to regulatory compliance and may have very few staff personnel available for reporting activities,” contends AHA.
Hospitals and other healthcare providers “are already highly regulated and spend billions on regulatory compliance,” AHA points out. “Any data gathering and reporting obligations under the program must be viewed against this backdrop.”
The FCC “should streamline the program’s application process, post-application reporting requirements, and performance evaluation metrics to minimize any additional administrative burdens,” concludes the hospital group.