Arguing that the needs of rural healthcare facilities vary from one provider to the next, two health IT organizations are calling for more flexibility within broadband regulations.
In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) HIMSS and the Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHAlliance) urged the agency to consider changes that would allow rural healthcare providers to pursue new technology like remote patient monitoring that allows for home-based treatment options.
Specifically, the organizations pushed the FCC to “open the market for local broadband services,” noting organizations that span several states or counties have to contract with “dozens of different organizations to acquire broadband connections.” Permitting resellers to manage broadband access for providers would simplify the process.
HIMSS and PCHAlliance also advocated for the FCC to eliminate retrospective discounting within the Rural Health Care Program that provides federal funding for broadband upgrades.
“A retrospective reduction of funding for a facility with extremely thin margins means that they are likely to simply abandon the project,” the letter stated.
The health IT organizations joined calls from several other healthcare organizations responding to the FCC’s request for input on broadband regulations in healthcare. The American Hospital Association and the National Rural Health Association requested more funding for rural providers to upgrade broadband access and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) argued that broadband is quickly becoming a social determinant of health.