Telehealth Centers of Excellence

Funding Agency:
Health Resources and Services Administration

This notice announces the limited competition opportunity to apply for funding under the Telehealth Centers of Excellence (COEs) Program. The primary purpose of this program is to assess specific telehealth1 uses and services to improve health care in rural areas. The Telehealth COEs are located in public academic medical centers that:

• Have a successful telehealth program with a high annual volume of telehealth visits;

• Have an established reimbursement structure that allows telehealth services to be financially self-sustaining; and

• Have established programs that provide telehealth services in medically underserved areas with high chronic disease prevalence and high poverty rates.

The Telehealth COEs will serve multiple roles, including telehealth incubators to pilot, track and refine telehealth research with the goal of establishing evidence-based telehealth programs and framework that could be shared and instituted in a future evidence-based telehealth network program to improve health care in rural areas. To achieve that goal, the Telehealth COEs have substantial experience operating a telehealth program that offers a broad range of clinical services and has experience demonstrating how their efforts have improved access to care and enhanced health outcomes for their patients. The Telehealth COEs use that expertise to test out new and or innovative uses of telehealth to provide an initial assessment of their potential and identify whether those assessments are viable to be expandable models.

The range of telehealth services has expanded over the past several decades and in 2020, experienced rapid increase in usage. Traditional telehealth models deliver care to patients at a series of originating (or spoke) sites from a specialist working at a distant (or hub) site. It has proven capabilities to reduce travel time, increase access to care, and improve patient safety, quality of care, and provider support. “By increasing access to physicians and specialists, telehealth helps ensure patients receive the right care, at the right place, at the right time.” In addition, in March 2020 the American Medical Association (AMA) reports, “Telehealth allows us to reach more patients while protecting the health care workforce.” Rural areas, particularly those with high rates of chronic disease and poverty, can benefit from using telehealth technology to receive vital health care services close to home.

The award recipients for the Telehealth COE work closely and collaborate with other relevant entities, including other HRSA-funded award recipients. In particular, the Telehealth COE recipient will work closely with the National and Regional Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs), the Telehealth-Focused Rural Health Research Centers (RHRCs) and the License Portability program. The Regional TRCs provide technical assistance to consumers, care organizations, networks and providers to implement cost-effective telehealth programs to serve rural and medically underserved areas and populations as well as serve as focal points for advancing the effective use of telehealth technologies in their respective states. There are two National TRCs, one with a focus on telehealth policy and one with a focus on telehealth technology, which support the Regional TRCs. The purpose of the RHRCs is to conduct and maintain a thorough and comprehensive evaluation of nationwide telehealth investments in rural areas and populations and conduct clinically informed and policy-relevant research to expand the evidence base for rural telehealth services. The Telehealth COEs will serve a distinct purpose from the programs described above, but it is important that all four programs work collaboratively with HRSA to ensure that work plans are complementary and work towards the overarching goal of growing telehealth nationally.

Deadline: April 20, 2021

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

The eligible applicants for this funding opportunity are public academic medical centers located in states with high chronic disease prevalence, high poverty rates, and a large percentage of medically underserved areas. For the purposes of this funding notice, limited competition eligible applicants are currently participating in the Telehealth Center of Excellence program and are located in a state where the chronic disease prevalence among Medicare beneficiaries is equal to or above the national prevalence for at least three of the following chronic conditions (cms.gov portal):

• High Blood Pressure/Hypertension

• Heart Disease

• Cancer

• Stroke

• Diabetes

• Chronic Kidney Disease

The applicant organization may be located in a rural or urban area, but must have demonstrated experience serving, or the capacity to serve, rural underserved populations.

NOTE: Multiple applications from an organization with the same DUNS number or Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) are allowable if the applications propose separate and distinct projects.

Amount Description

HRSA estimates approximately $6,500,000 to be available annually to fund two (2) recipients. You may apply for a ceiling amount of up to $3,250,000 total cost (includes both direct and indirect, indirect costs not to exceed 15 percent, facilities and administrative costs) per year. The period of performance is September 30, 2021 through September 29, 2026 (5 years). Funding beyond the first year is subject to the availability of appropriated funds for the Telehealth COEs in subsequent fiscal years, satisfactory recipient performance, and a decision that continued funding is in the best interest of the Federal Government.

Funding Type

Grant

Eligibility

Faculty

Category

Community Outreach and Engagement
Medical
Medical - Clinical Science
Social Sciences

External Deadline

April 20, 2021