FCC meets with UVA Health to expand telemedicine into patients’ homes

Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 3:24 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been helping to expand telehealth services at the University of Virginia as the need for virtual visits increase.

Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks met virtually with the UVA Karen S. Rheuban Center for Telehealth Tuesday, February 2, to discuss the telemedicine work that is being done at UVA and how it’s expanding virtual services for patients.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented extraordinary new challenges and opportunities for patients and doctors,” Rosenworcel said. “Telehealth can be a solution to help address inequities in access to care. If the past year has shown us anything, it’s that telehealth technology is here to stay. The FCC will continue to work to expand affordable access to broadband, so that health care providers across the country can support their communities well into the future.”

UVA Karen S. Rheuban Center for Telehealth Director Dr. Karen Rheuban says the FCC is committed to ensuring virtual care becomes ubiquitous. A common goal Rheuban, her team, and the FCC share.

“Commissioner Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission has said we are transitioning from a Blockbuster model to a Netflix model where patients don’t necessarily have to come to us. We can come to them,” Rheuban said.

Rheuban says more than 60 subspecialties of healthcare at UVA participate in some form of telemedicine program.

“Across all of the disciplines, providers have been participating in telemedicine, but again that doesn’t entirely negate the need for in-person care and in-person procedures,” Rheuban said.

This month, the FCC launched 14 pilot programs, including one at UVA, to help provide connected care services to low-income and veteran patients. Rheuban says this ongoing partnership will help provide equal access to care.

“The next step that the Commission took in the Connected Care Pilot Program was to enable the use of telecommunications services and technologies to the home of the patient and of course that is completely appropriate and necessary in the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rheuban said.

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