mHealth13: FCC's Clyburn calls spectrum the 'lifeblood' to mobile health

Speaking at the 2013 mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Federal Communications Committee Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn spoke to an audience about the prolific promise of mHealth--and what the FCC is doing to keep up its end of the bargain.

"I bet no one ever told you the biggest game changer out there is mHealth, right?" she said.

The FCC is doing its part to seize mHealth technology and efforts, Clyburn (pictured) said. For instance, she said, any people don't realize that the FCC's rural health program supported broadband activity needed for telehealth efforts. Nearly a year ago, the FCC made as much as $400 million available to healthcare providers to create and expand telemedicine networks nationwide as part of its Healthcare Connect Fund.

"Broadband connectivity is central to patient centeredness. It's a component of quality healthcare," Clyburn said. It requires people have education support and connectivity and "being wired."

If technology is only available at universities like Johns Hopkins and Stanford, the agency is failing, Clyburn said. Experimental licensing from the FCC is allowing for greater flexibility at universities.

"Many of you feel like the government is telling you one thing, and an agency is telling you something else," Clyburn said. "I won't stand here and say everything is perfect but we're doing our best to make sure everyone is going in the same direction."

Cell phone service plays a critical role for people who are homeless or marginally housed, Clyburn said. And although the adoption gap between black American and white Americans has been cut in half, Clyburn said, 15 million Americans can't get broadband if they wanted it because of where they live.

The FCC is "laser-focused" on providing more spectrum to mobile networks, Clyburn said; it's a "lifeblood" to mobile healthcare.

"We need to further enhance ability of low income U.S. citizens to stay in touch with a healthcare team--and keep the mHealth promise," Clyburn said.

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