Update on telemedicine, part two

Posted On: 12/4/2013

If you missed last week’s Hotline telemedicine update on the Board of Medical Licensure rulemaking, click here.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) governs telemedicine through the reimbursement of telecommunication charges upon application to the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund (OUSF). For the last several years, the OHA has been actively involved in offering input in the rulemaking process at the Commission regarding the OUSF and the definition of non-profit hospitals that receive reimbursements. At the Oct. 15 OCC technical conference, it was announced that formal rulemaking would proceed and new rules will be issued in January or February with the intent of clarifying telemedicine receipt of OUSF.  

One of the changes in the last year is that all applicants to the OUSF have a duty to seek alternative funding first, and part of the application requires the individual requesting funds to attest that they have sought alternatives prior to the OUSF. OHA attended a presentation recently on the federal Health Care Connect Fund (HCF), which can also be applied for by individual hospital facilities or as part of a consortium administered by the Telehealth Alliance of Oklahoma. The HCF provides discounts of 65 percent to support broadband connectivity to eligible health care providers and encourages the formation of state and regional broadband networks. HCF provides subsidies for more entities and services than the Oklahoma fund. 

The Telehealth Alliance of Oklahoma (TAO), a not-for-profit organization, has formed a consortium to enable Oklahoma health care providers to fully utilize the Healthcare Connect Fund and receive additional funding opportunities only available in a consortium. Statewide participation is the key component in receiving the maximum benefit from the HCF. As long as the TAO consortium consists of a majority of rural sites, HCF will provide discounts up to 65 percent for both the rural and urban locations. Oklahoma health care providers who join together in the TAO consortium with 50 percent or more rural sites will be able to include costs of connectivity to urban hospitals, medical schools, and other eligible providers located in urban areas such as Tulsa and Oklahoma City. More information about the Health Care Connect fund is found at http://taoklahoma.org/healthcare-connect-fund.

For more information, contact Sandra Harrison at sharrison@okoha.com, or Lynne White at lwhite@okoha.com
(Sandra Harrison)

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