KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Federal Communications Commission has awarded an $861,560.00 grant to Cherokee Health Systems to advance its telehealth services. Telehealth or telemedicine, where a patient can meet with their health care provider virtually, became a prominent means for appointments amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to hospital visitation restrictions among other issues caused by the health crisis.

A news release about the grant states Cherokee Health was one of 72 health care providers selected nationwide to receive an award. Last month, the FCC approved additional applications for funding commitments through its COVID-19 Telehealth Program.

How Cherokee Health Systems will use the funding will be a multistep process along with an upcoming app.

Cherokee Health officials say they will use the money to fund and distribute over 1,000 telehealth kits to patients across all 23 clinics. Each mobile kit will include a Bluetooth blood pressure cuff, a glucometer, a pulse oximeter, and a scale weight. The devices will be connected to a new app that will allow patients to remotely monitor their health. For those patients who don’t have access to a cell phone, Cherokee Health plans to send an electronic tablet home with them for a few months at a time. Cherokee Health also has plans to develop launch its new app towards the end of this year.

“This funding will enable Cherokee to significantly enhance access to needed telehealth primary medical and behavioral health services, as well as assist patient self-management of their chronic health problems. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the digital divide and other disparities that contribute to health inequities. We aim to invest in virtual health technologies that improve access and support quality care for everyone in the communities we serve,” Dr. Parinda Khatri, Cherokee Health’s Chief Clinical Officer, said.

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