FCC's Clyburn: Telemedicine shows promise for rural communities

Telehealth is showing promise for expanded care in rural communities, especially in states like Mississippi, Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said at a recent town hall discussion at Jackson State University.

The Magnolia State faces challenges because of generational poverty and its abundance of rural areas, which lack access to quality care and high-speed Internet and computers, Clyburn said. However, telehealth can help connect doctors to those areas. She said the event is part of an effort to move beyond the Beltway to get information on how to better serve rural populations, according to an announcement from JSU on the event.

"We're moving the needle in terms of healthcare delivery, even if the system isn't perfect as it is today," she said, according to the Clarion-Ledger. "Connectivity is critical to healthcare."

The FCC is looking for new, innovative partnerships with broadband communications to bring care to consumers, Clyburn said during the Consumer Health IT Summit in September.

Mississippi got an "A" for policies that support telemedicine adoption in state policy reports on the technology, released in September by the American Telemedicine Association. State policies make a big difference in the adoption of telemedicine and whether hospitals decide to offer the services.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center operates a telehealth center that has services available at a number of community health centers and schools in Mississippi's smaller cities, according to the Ledger.

However, the panelists did say that getting the tech out to rural areas where poor people who need healthcare the most is a challenge, according to the announcement.

To learn more:
- read the Ledger story
- check out the announcement