Telehealth Resource Center Program Request for Information

Type of Notice: Request for Information

Title: Telehealth Resource Center Program Request for Information

Response Date: March 6, 2020

Summary: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) seeks information about the upcoming Telehealth Resource Center (TRC) Program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). HRSA seeks responses to the “Questions for Public Comment” section of this Request for Information (RFI). HRSA may use the responses collected to inform policy development and program decision making, among other purposes. The responses and/or a summary of the responses will be shared with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT).

Dates: Submit comments to the email listed in the “Response Format” section by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 6, 2020.

Response Format: Responses to this RFI must be provided via email to hrsacomments@hrsa.gov and must reference “Telehealth Resource Center Program RFI” in the title. Submissions are due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 6, 2020. HRSA will not accept hard-copy responses or other formats.

Purpose

HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Office for the Advancement of Telehealth seeks public input on how the Telehealth Resource Centers may be better designed to serve HRSA’s rural and underserved populations. This RFI is part of a regular and ongoing effort by FORHP to assess the extent to which its TRC Program aligns with a rapidly evolving rural health care landscape. To improve HRSA’s understanding of this issue, HRSA encourages input from a broad range of stakeholders, including healthcare providers –e.g., rural health clinics, critical access hospitals, federally-qualified health centers and look-alikes, other rural hospitals, etc.; researchers; community members; advocates, telehealth experts; State, local and Tribal governments; past and current FORHP grant recipients; and other interested parties.

Background

Through FORHP’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, the TRC Program includes 12 regional centers and two national centers, designed to provide telehealth technical assistance, expertise, and resources to serve rural and medically underserved areas and populations, since 2006. The TRC Program currently funds 14 recipients at $325,000 per year for 4 years and are distributed through the following:

  • The 12 regional TRCs are located regionally to:
    • Disseminate information and best practices or research findings related to telehealth services.
    • Promote effective collaboration among telehealth resource centers and OAT.
    • Promote the integration of technologies used in clinical information systems with other telehealth technologies.
    • Foster the use of telehealth technologies for health care providers or consumers to increase information, education access, timeliness, cost effectiveness or quality related to health care service delivery.
    • Implement special projects or studies developed in consultation with OAT.
  • The national TRCs focus on policy and technology respectively to accomplish the following:
    • The National TRC for policy focuses on policy issues of telehealth, such as reimbursement and coverage, licensing, credentialing and privileging, regulation, standards, guidelines, and privacy.
    • The National TRC for policy publishes a “State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies” report every 6 months that highlights changes that have taken place in state telehealth policy. The report is a summary guide of telehealth-related policies, laws and regulations for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, focusing primarily on Medicaid fee-for services policies.
    • The National TRC for technology focuses on telehealth technology issues related to equipment or software, interfacing/integration with other systems, interoperability, technology support and upgrading, cybersecurity, technology alerts or recalls.
    • The National TRC for technology website provides consumer focused resources such as toolkits, technology assessments, innovation watches, and information to upcoming events such as their interactive telehealth technology showcases to allow participants to review and assess medical peripherals side by side in a vendor neutral environment.
  • As part of the current TRC Program cohort, all of the current grantees have opted into creating a National Consortium of TRCs to enhance collaboration, consistency, efficiency, and impact.

As the field of telehealth continues to expand across the nation with increasing support from public and private payers, the TRC Program continues to be at the forefront of knowledge in telehealth policy, reimbursement, technology, and education. In order to keep up with the telehealth demand and interest, HRSA is seeking public comment on how to best align the TRC Program to meet the needs of the rural and underserved populations.

Questions for Public Comment

  1. Have you used Telehealth Resource Center Program Services? Yes or No.
  2. Have the TRCs met the needs for telehealth technical assistance in your rural and underserved communities? Yes or No. Please provide an example with your response.
  3. What are the three most urgent topics that you would be most likely to ask a TRC about in the next year?
  4. Please review the regional TRC map. Do you have suggestions on the regional distributions?
  5. Do you have any suggestions for HRSA as the Notice of Funding Opportunity is being drafted?

Submitting Comments:

Please submit comments via email to hrsacomments@hrsa.gov, and reference “Telehealth Resource Center Program RFI” in the title. Please also include the specific RFI question to which your comment is directed. If you provide comments to more than one question, please identify the specific RFI question to which each comment is directed. Information obtained as a result of this RFI may be used by HRSA and HHS for program planning and program decision making on a non-attribution basis. Responses to this RFI may be made publicly available; therefore, respondents should not include any information that might be considered proprietary or confidential. HRSA will not respond to any individual comments. Comments will be received through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 6, 2020.

Special Note to Commenters:

Whenever possible, respondents are asked to draw their responses from objective, empirical, and actionable evidence and to cite this evidence within their responses.

This RFI is issued solely for information and planning purposes; it does not constitute a Request for Proposal, applications, proposal abstracts, or quotations. This RFI does not commit the Government to contract for any supplies or services or make a grant or cooperative agreement award. Further, HRSA is not seeking proposals through this RFI and will not accept unsolicited proposals. Responders are advised that the U.S. Government will not pay for any information or administrative costs incurred in response to this RFI; all costs associated with responding to this RFI will be solely at the interested party’s expense. Not responding to this RFI does not preclude participation in any future procurement or program, if conducted. All submissions become Government property and will not be returned.

Please note that HRSA will not respond to questions about the policy issues raised in this RFI. HRSA may or may not choose to contact individual responders. Such communications would only serve to further clarify written responses.

Date Last Reviewed:  February 2020