FCC requests input on advancing broadband-enabled IT solutions in healthcare

The Federal Communications Commission is seeking input from a wide range of healthcare and IT stakeholders to identify the barriers to broadband-enabled advancements in healthcare.

As healthcare becomes more interconnected and reliant on mobile technologies to improve care and reduce costs, the FCC wants to better understand what role it plays in facilitating access to those technologies through policy and regulation, according to a public notice (PDF) released by the agency.

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Led by the FCC’s Connect2Health Task Force, the agency requested comments, data and information about a wide range of topics including:

  • Infrastructure improvements to support health IT solutions, particularly in rural parts of the country
  • Regulatory barriers for radio-frequency (RF)-enabled devices
  • Consumer awareness about the value proposition of broadband in healthcare
  • Lessons learned from effective projects involving telehealth, mHeath apps and broadband-enabled technology

The request comes several days after the FCC voted to roll back regulations on business data services, eliminating price caps on broadband services for small businesses, schools and hospitals, according to the Wall Street Journal. Advocates said deregulation would prompt investments to modernize broadband networks, but critics argued it would prompt rate hikes.

Last year, the Connect2Health Task Force unveiled a new broadband mapping tool that paired internet accessibility data with health measures like obesity and diabetes, and identified areas of the country with a “critical need” for better broadband.

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Rural areas of the country are increasingly reliant on telehealth services and are particularly susceptible to connectivity concerns. A recent report by the NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association indicated telehealth could save rural hospitals average of $81,000 each year, although the community would likely realize even greater cost savings.