Many healthcare organizations are interested in creating a remote patient monitoring (RPM) program, but budget pressures sometimes get in the way. However, you could be eligible for funding opportunities that could make your new RPM program a reality. In this blog, we’ll give you an overview of the grant process and show you the multiple ways that HRS can assist you, from initial eligibility assessments to application guidance and support.  

During the pandemic, telehealth became more visible than ever before, demonstrating its many powerful benefits to millions of patients and providers across the nation. As a result, more and more funders—from private foundations to state and federal governments—are providing grants that can be used to create telehealth initiatives that help organizations expand their services, reach underserved populations, and improve patient outcomes. Many healthcare grants can be used to support telehealth or RPM programs, even if those terms aren’t mentioned in the grant title. 

What is a telehealth grant and who is eligible for one? 

Before you apply for a grant, be sure you know exactly what it is—and what it’s not. A grant is not a gift with no strings attached, recurring funding that lasts indefinitely, or funding to pay for a project that’s already in place.   

Essentially, any grant is a contract to produce results. A telehealth grant certainly applies, because it can be used to create an RPM program that can lower healthcare costs, promote efficient use of clinical staff, allow patients to take greater control over their health and enhance access for patients who face obstacles to seeking in-person care.  Most grants are designed to provide start-up or seed funding to initiate a new project or to somehow enhance or grow an existing project—not to simply support an existing service. Depending upon the specifics for each grant, you can receive funding for everything you need to start up your RPM program, including operating expenses, equipment, staff salaries, and more. Prime candidates for telehealth grants include: 

  • Non-profit organizations 
  • Organizations that serve rural areas or areas/populations with limited healthcare access 
  • Organizations located in a tribal area or that serve a tribal area   
  • Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) 
  • Rural Health Clinics (federal designation) 
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) 
  • Local government entities (Ex: public health departments, publicly owned hospitals) 

How do you know what grants are available? 

Telehealth should be seen as an innovation or strategy for reaching the objectives of a grant proposal. Very few grants will have “telehealth” in the title. However, telehealth and RPM can be incorporated as a strategy in the proposal for many health-related grants. Grants that have supported telehealth projects in the past include funding from:  

  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) 
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 
  • Other agencies within the US Department of Health and Human Services 
  • State-level agencies  
  • Private foundations 

Finding and securing the right grant can take a good amount of research and relationship building. You can explore your funding opportunities by:  

  • Examining federal grant opportunities at Grants are usually announced 45 to 60 days before the deadline.  Some grants are listed in as “forecasted” even before they are announced. 
  • Researching state funding. Usually, telehealth grant opportunities will be announced through state agencies for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Monitoring legislative activity at the federal and state level. Program funding can become available through the passage of legislation, such as the American Rescue Plan during the pandemic.
  • Surveying the work of private foundations. Grant databases can be used to identify foundations that are interested in funding various healthcare initiatives.  
  • Monitoring communications from relevant associations.  Telehealth networks and associations throughout the country provide frequent updates on legislation and anticipated funding linked to telehealth. In addition, associations related to nursing, hospitals, rural health, FQHCs, and other healthcare-related collaboratives are valuable sources of information for grant funding opportunities. 

It’s a good idea to check often, because grants will sometimes be announced in advance but not yet posted. Even without all the details, you can begin the proposal process when you know a grant opportunity is coming. Early fall can be a particularly active time for new grants.  

What goes into a grant proposal?  

Each grant proposal will be slightly different, but most contain the following: 

  • Needs statement. This is where you state the case for a new telehealth or RPM program in your organization, describing the healthcare needs and challenges of the target population and showing how the project will benefit patients and your community.   
  • Goals/objectives of the project. You’ll need to clearly state the goals and measurable objectives of your project, from reducing readmissions to greater patient access. 
  • Project description. Here, you’ll detail exactly what you need to develop your telehealth program, including the healthcare professionals and equipment required. You’ll also describe the implementation plan and timeline.  
  • Partners and collaborators. Funders often want to see interdisciplinary collaboration between teams and organizations. Telehealth obviously provides multiple ways for departments to work together to achieve better results than they could achieve on their own. 
  • Sustainability. You’ll need to clearly define how you plan to sustain the program after the grant funding period has ended. Successful projects will incorporate several strategies, such as partnerships, shared resources, and reimbursement. In addition, cost savings from the program can be tracked to demonstrate effectiveness and return on investment. This can be used to advocate for additional support to various audiences. 
  • Budget and budget narrative. In this section, you’ll detail your projected costs and provide a rationale for each item. 

Each section of your proposal will be scored, so pay careful attention to the areas that represent the highest number of possible points. Every grant is different, so as you write your proposal, be aware of the stated goals of the grant to ensure that you’re meeting those objectives. Many grants will award higher points for projects that address health equity, diversity, and issues surrounding the social determinants of health. Above all, put your project in the best possible light. A worthy program may be turned down for lack of a clear, compelling proposal. 

After you submit your proposal, it may be four to six months before you receive your answer. In the meantime, your funder may have follow-up questions for you during the review process. If all goes well, you’ll receive the funding you requested—and the real work can begin! 

How can HRS help with your grant? 

We offer experienced grant consultants who can assist you in many ways, from before the grant process begins to support after the program is funded. We stay on top of upcoming grants that might be available to you and can direct you to the funding that best fits your needs. Specifically, we can help you with:  

  • Funding opportunities. Meet with HRS to assess your eligibility and readiness for pursuing external funding. 
  • Funding resources. Consult with us one-on-one or explore the resource library on the HRS website, which is updated frequently with grant-related information and case studies with information about successfully implemented RPM programs. We also send emails with grant updates and conduct grant proposal webinars throughout the year. 
  • Application guidance and support. We can’t write your proposal for you, but we can give you valuable advice as you develop specific content. We can also help you navigate the online grant registration and submission systems.  
  • Post-award support. Once you receive funding, we can work with you to ensure that you’re meeting the requirements outlined in your proposal and assist you in tracking and evaluating results.  

Securing a grant can be a complicated process, but the results are certainly worth the effort. Launching a successful RPM program—and seeing the positive benefits it can have on patients’ lives and your organization—can be a priceless payoff for years to come.