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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is putting $400 million toward improving the nation's telemedicine infrastructure, the commission announced Monday.
The money will primarily pay for broadband services, equipment, connections to research and education networks, and the construction and maintenance of modern health-care facilities, according to the FCC.
Local health departments are among the eligible applicants, which also include hospitals, health clinics, community health centers, medical schools or a combination of those. Applicants will be able to start submitting their plans by late summer.
According to the FCC, recipients will get a 65 percent discount on purchasing the services and equipment needed to upgrade their broadband capability, as well as a 35 percent match from the federal government to pay for the rest.
The program is an extension of the Rural Health Care Pilot Program, started in 2006 and extended to 50 active projects, which sought to improve telemedicine infrastructure in rural areas specifically.
The improvements should lead to greater use of telemedicine, which allows doctors to examine and monitor patients remotely, and increased adoption of electronic health records, according to the FCC.