Equiva Health, Gilda’s Club, healthcare providers leverage affordable broadband funding Leave a comment

Gilda’s Club Twin Cities, part of the national non-profit Cancer Support Community network, and Equiva Health, a digital patient engagement company, are partnering to provide stand-alone devices configured for at-home use as part of an oncology-specific initiative to address health disparities through discounted broadband funded by a $14.2 billion Federal Communications Commission’s internet access program.


Gilda’s Club Twin Cities is making impacted individuals, healthcare providers and community organizations aware of the ACP by enrolling eligible households across Minnesota and at four other CSC locations in the U.S., according to Thursday’s announcement. 

The organization is also educating constituents about the collaboration with Equiva Health, which partnered with CSC and its social enterprise Patient Planning Services in December to create and deliver a new model of digital cancer support.

Through Equiva, Gilda’s Club’s eligible household enrollees get FCC discounts of up to $30 per month, and up to $75 per month on tribal lands, toward internet service as well as a tablet device preloaded with access to virtual cancer support groups, healthy lifestyle education, cancer treatment information and other resources, the organization said. 

“We are reaching out to our provider partners to make them aware of the Affordable Connectivity Program and our new ACP-focused initiative,” said Katherine Todd, Gilda’s Club Twin Cities’ executive director, in an email to Healthcare IT News.

To get providers engaged and referring potentially ACP-eligible patients to Gilda’s Club to apply for the federal program, Todd said they explain that the initiative supports efforts to extend heathcare’s reach beyond in-patient settings with improved access to virtual offerings.

“We believe this is especially important for serving our Minnesota cancer community who have health disparities and access barriers,” Todd added.

Gilda’s Club is taking the lead, distributing 200 tablets with the four other sites all distributing tablets by the end of May. 

They are asking providers to identify cancer patients and families who may qualify as ACP program enrollees, which includes households with Medicaid recipients and other federal subsidy programs, to provide them with the information they need to connect their patients with the Gilda’s Club team supporting ACP enrollment.

Once enrolled, Equiva Health ensures that the patients or their families are receiving the discounted broadband service and the tablets.

Todd said many of the providers have been enthusiastic and have asked for patient-facing messaging. Gilda’s Club is also scheduling one-on-one meetings with the providers on patient outreach for the program.

“Interestingly, many inform us that they’ve not previously heard of the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity program despite it being launched more than a year ago,” she said.

For Gilda’s Club, they’ll be evaluating if the tablets and the program are an effective way to increase access to psychosocial oncology care in underserved communities and learning about which oncology-specific content and virtual services are accessed most by end users.

The tablet also includes Patient Planning Services’ Cancer Support Source, which is a clinically-validated distress, depression and anxiety screener the organization says will help them identify cancer patient program participants who could benefit from emotional support services or resource referrals.

Equiva is also collaborating with Infinti Mobile, an FCC-participating wireless service provider, to help eligible healthcare organizations connect to the ACP.

In February, the company announced a partnership to serve as a catalyst for enrolling hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare providers and to help them with targeted population health initiatives. 


The ACP broadband access program represents a golden moment for telehealth, according to Craig Settles, who conducts needs analyses, planning and grant assessments with community stakeholders seeking to develop broadband networks and telehealth.

For his Healthcare IT News piece urging collaboration with community organizations and public health agencies to leverage the federal broadband affordability program, Settles asked Terri English-Yancy, founder and CEO of Kansas City-based Essential Families, which offers virtual programs for those living near the poverty line, about the ACP. 

“Marketing the ACP program is ‘mission critical’ for me because all Essential Families’ virtual preventative services, like the virtual home visiting and virtual mental telehealth require adequate and affordable broadband,” she said.

While not only a path to improving health equity, affordable broadband access could benefit cost control in healthcare. 

According to Tom Leary, senior vice president and head of government relations at HIMSS, parent company of Healthcare IT News, the two-year extension to offer telehealth included in the final legislative package of 2022 has opened a new window for a potential telehealth policy change. 

HIMSS will use that time to gather data on the cost of avoidance or the cost control aspects of telehealth, he said. 


“We’re not familiar with another program of this kind serving population health needs,” said Equiva Health CEO and co-founder Nir Altman. 

“It uniquely couples proven digital health engagement technology with a federally supported broadband connectivity program, in a framework that helps providers and payors advance health equity via a platform empowering cost-effective and cohesive deployment of care management services,” he said. 

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: afox@himss.org

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

Ferric Fang, Ning Rosenthal and Sarah Warner will offer more detail at the HIMSS23 session “The Power of Real-World Data in Driving Healthcare Decision-Making.” It is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18, at 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. CT at the South Building, Level 5, room S503.


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