FCC broadband plan plays up smartphones, doc-hospital connectivity

The FCC is promoting wider and faster connectivity between physicians and hospitals, as well as continued development of smartphone applications for doctors, as part of its National Broadband Plan.

The long-anticipated plan, unveiled last week, includes a chapter on healthcare, which reads, in part: "In its traditional role, the FCC would evaluate this challenge [of improving health outcomes while reducing cost] primarily through a network connectivity perspective. However, it is the ecosystem of networks, applications, devices and individual actions that drives value, not just the network itself. It is imperative to focus on adoption challenges, and specifically the government decisions that influence the system in which private actors operate, if America is to realize the enormous potential of broadband-enabled health IT."

FCC officials call for "appropriate incentives" to encourage adoption of mobile and broadband-enabled technologies, including pilot projects to prove their worth. "Large-scale private pilots of e-care such as the Connected Care Telehealth Program in Colorado and the Community Partnerships and Mobile Telehealth to Transform Research in Elder Care should similarly consult with HHS and share valuable lessons learned," the report says. "For pilots that meet HHS's data collection standards, Congress should consider tax breaks or other incentives."

For further details:
- take a look at this eWeek story
- read the healthcare chapter of the National Broadband Plan