HHS strikes out on search for new telehealth center

No one applies for an opportunity to manage the National Telehealth Resource Center

The Health and Human Services Department has struck out in finding an organization to run a national telemedicine center. HHS said Aug. 26 that it got no applications to operate the National Telehealth Resource Center.

Telehealth and telemedicine refer to practices in which health care providers, such as doctors and hospitals, use information technology and telecommunications devices and services to provide service to patients. For example, a doctor can consult with a patient from a remote location.

Because no one applied, HHS said it is extending funding for the existing operator of the National Telehealth Resource Center until a new competition can be held in 2010, according to a Federal Register notice published Aug. 26. HHS is providing $225,000 in noncompetitive supplemental grants to the existing center for the year ending Aug. 31, 2010.

HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is releasing the supplemental funding to the Center for Telehealth & E-Health Law, which serves as the current National Telehealth Resource Center, so it can continue to provide technical assistance services to regional telehealth centers, the department said.

“HRSA received no applications for the National Telehealth Resource Center," the Federal Register notice states. "Since no organization applied to serve in the capacity as a NTRC, it is urgent that the Center for Telehealth & E-Health Law continue to provide its services until next year without disruption when HRSA can conduct a new competition for the provision of these services."

The national telehealth and e-health law center has been operating since 1995. It was selected as the National Telehealth Resource Center in 2006.

Telemedicine has been a growing field and is gaining ground in military applications.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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