Dr. Sumana Reddy demonstrates a Telehealth exam using Updox, a HIPPA-compliant video chat software, one of several programs her clinic relies on to meet with patients. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Neighborhood Healthcare will receive funding for a pilot project aimed at providing broadband Internet access to low-income patients suffering from chronic and long-term medical conditions at four San Diego County sites, it was announced Friday.

The proposed project, which will serve patients in El Cajon, Pauma Valley, and two sites in Escondido, is part of 14 such projects selected at more than 150 sites nationwide for the Connected Care Pilot Program, announced Friday by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC said in a statement that 97% of the patients to be served through Neighborhood Healthcare’s collective project plans are low-income patients.

The Connected Care Pilot Program will provide support for 85% of the costs of eligible services and network equipment, with an emphasis on low-income and veteran patients.

A total of $26.6 million in project awards were announced Friday, while the pilot program will make up to $100 million available over a three-year period, according to the FCC.

“The events of the past year have highlighted that connectivity is critical to address current and future health challenges in this country, from chronic disease to COVID-19, in particular for our nation’s veterans and low-income Americans,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Today’s announcement lays the groundwork for this connected care future as these projects will help us better understand how telehealth can reduce costs and increase the quality of care, in areas of the greatest need across the country.”

The FCC says its review of project applications remains ongoing and additional project selections will be announced at a later date.

— City News Service

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