As telehealth’s entrenchment in healthcare delivery continues, stakeholders are exploring ways to apply the technology in specialized patient care.
Many of those initiatives seek to improve health access and equity for vulnerable populations such as adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), aging populations, and other marginalized groups. Interest in condition-specific telehealth programs is also rising as providers aim to improve care for patients navigating treatment for things like cancer, AIDS, mental health conditions, and substance use disorder.
To fund these programs, many resource-strapped, independent, and rural healthcare facilities turn to grant programs. If you fall into this camp, here are several funding opportunities you may wish to consider applying for to support your virtual care initiative.
Federal Telehealth Funding Opportunities
Federal agencies invest millions annually to support better access to quality care for rural and underserved areas.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rural Health Care Program provides support to eligible healthcare providers for “telecommunications and broadband services necessary for the provision of healthcare.” Supported in collaboration with Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), a not-for-profit corporation charged with administering federal grant funds, the Rural Health Care Program includes two facets:
- The Healthcare Connect Fund Program provides a 65% discount on eligible broadband connectivity expenses for eligible rural health providers.
- The Telecommunications Program provides reduced rates to rural health providers for telecommunications and voice services for the use in telehealth.
Additional federal funding opportunities for telehealth and broadband-related programs can be found at Telehealth.HHS.gov. Built by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the site aggregates active funding programs from various outlets including but not limited to:
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
- National Cancer Institute (NCI)
- National Institute on Aging (NIA)
- National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
- National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Office of Disease Prevention (ODP)
Several public and private foundations offer annual grant application opportunities. Examples include:
- William Randolph Hearst Foundation funds non-profit organizations focused on improving health and quality of life.
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation invests in programs that promote health equity.
- The Bob Woodruff Foundation offers grants for programs and services that help U.S. service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers.
Many organizations offer annual funding opportunities within specific geographic regions. Examples include:
- Rural Maryland Council Prosperity Investment Fund supports rural Maryland healthcare organizations.
- Virginia Health Care Foundation Health Access Grants support non-profit organizations in improving access to primary care for uninsured Virginians.
- The Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona is a private foundation that funds nonprofit organizations promoting population health in Cochise and eastern Santa Cruz counties.
Additional Telehealth Grant Portal Resources
The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers offers a broader list of current and upcoming funding opportunities available through foundations and within specific regional offerings. Each has either a focus on or a strong potential for telehealth applications.
The Rural Health Information Hub highlights non-Federal funding opportunities for the use of telehealth in rural settings.
HRSA Office for the Advancement of Telehealth also offers numerous grants to expand and enhance healthcare services, including telehealth, particularly for underserved populations.
Grant Application Recommendations
If you are considering applying for a grant, keep in mind that you do not have to look for grants specifically targeted at telehealth. Most grants encourage the use of technology as part of the solution.
Here are a few additional tips:
- Register with sites to receive notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) updates.
- Carefully review eligibility criteria to ensure your organization qualifies for funds.
- Have a specific plan and well-thought-out program roadmap built prior to applying.
- Be aware of all submission requirements, including caveats related to fund matching or precursory Letter of Intent steps you may need to take.
- Submit your proposal on time or – better still – ahead of the deadline.
- Make sure you’re well-versed in post-award requirements your organization will be expected to meet should you be awarded funding.
- Ensure you have cash flow available to cover up-front costs for reimbursement-oriented funding programs.
- Develop a plan for program sustainability beyond grant funding.
In the event that your organization does not qualify for grant opportunities or fails to secure funding after applying for one, don’t lose hope! Fleet lease options, pay-as-you-go subscription-based pricing models, and pilot programs through your telehealth partner represent just a few of the other avenues available to bring your virtual care program to life.
To set up a discovery call with a Caregility telehealth specialist, contact us here.