The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded $862,906 to the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) in partnership with Los Angeles Jewish Health from the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program. This was a reimbursement program allowing awardees to purchase eligible telecommunications or information services and eligible connected devices needed to provide Telehealth services in response to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic emergency response has been the impetus for the rapid expansion of Telehealth. The pandemic shelter-in-place orders illuminated the needs and implications for medically-disadvantaged and digitally-disadvantaged populations. It highlighted the imperative for investments in constructing high-speed Internet infrastructure capable of supporting Telehealth services and the urgency for getting all residents online with appropriate computing devices and functional Digital Literacy. However, the agility of the healthcare industry and ability of government agencies to immediately embrace Telehealth in an emergency also spotlighted the potential of Telehealth to improve patient outcomes and overall population health. Telehealth is no longer just about emergency response to COVID-19 – it is about access to quality health care and medical expertise—it is about closing the Digital Divide, promoting Digital Inclusion, and achieving Digital Equity—a 21st Century Civil Right.