Creating a HEALTHY Demand for Broadband
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Congratulations! You put together a competitive proposal under BTOP and were fortunate enough to be funded. Now you are in a position to provide broadband to all these previously underserved communities. There's just one problem: The community anchor institutions (CAIs) in your area do not have the financial resources to implement their broadband-intensive projects. Fortunately, grant programs are available for CAIs to fund their initiatives, which can have a direct impact in increasing demand for broadband infrastructure.
In particular, there are several grant programs available to health care providers that are struggling to fund projects that require robust broadband networks. Healthcare organizations are turning to technology and related communications networks to increase access to health care, lower costs, and improve quality. Health care organizations are attempting to implement electronic health records and online patient records that can be accessed anywhere internet is available. Providers must implement the technology to take advantage of federal incentives and avoid future penalties. In addition, they must be able to exchange the health information they collect with other providers and public health agencies. In rural and underserved areas, hospitals are turning to telehealth networks in order to deliver cost-effective services. Hospitals and other health care organizations utilize video conferencing technology to deliver education curriculums to health care professionals. The mobile health, or mhealth movement, is making it possible for patients to communicate with physician via their smart phones and computers. While these providers have a plethora of broadband-intensive projects to rollout, the problem is they operate on extremely thin margins and are unable to secure funding.
As a BTOP recipient or broadband provider in general, it can be extremely beneficial for you to connect your healthcare CAIs to funding opportunities that will ultimately increase demand for your services. Fortunately, grantmakers primarily allocate funding based on the greatest need, which is consistent with the underserved areas targeted by the BTOP program. Funding options are available through multiple sources, including federal, state, private foundation, and corporate giving programs. The most important consideration to note is that at the federal level, funding tends to be cyclical as most programs are recycled on an annual basis. Once a program is announced, these CAIs will only have four to six weeks to respond with a proposal. The most important piece of the puzzle is to educate yourself on what is coming down the pipeline. With that in mind, the following page contains a small sample of grant programs that are anticipated to be available in FY2012 for your healthcare CAIs.