The FCC’s https://www.fcc.gov top priority is to increase digital opportunities especially in the area of healthcare. The FCC on July 12, 2018 issued a Notice of Inquiry as a first step in developing a Universal Service Fund (USF) pilot program to explore how to promote the use of broadband-enabled telehealth services and applications especially for low income families and low income veterans.
For example, studies have shown that remote patient monitory has the potential to significantly improve health outcomes. The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) has partnered with a mobile broadband provider to remotely monitor diabetes patients in rural parts of the state via tablet computers.
The pilot resulted in a marked decrease in blood glucose levels, early recognition of diabetes-related eye disease and not diabetes-related hospitalizations or emergency room visits among the patients.
Also, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) https://www.va.gov/health conducted a three year remote patient monitoring program involving more than 43,000 veterans with hypertension, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, and PTSD. This program resulted in a 25 percent reduction in days of inpatient care and a 19 percent reduction in hospital admissions.
The Notice of Inquiry describes the goals in developing the “Connected Care Pilot Program” and seeks comments on the specific goals that need to be considered. The topics suggested in the Notice of Inquiry include discussions on:
- Improving health outcomes via broadband access
- How the pilot program can improve health outcomes by focusing on particular demographics or geographical areas
- Particular health conditions, areas of medicine or on how to deal with a health crisis
- Determining which pilot program to use
- How to reduce costs involved in terms of patients, facilities, and the system in general
- How the USF can positively impact existing telehealth initiatives
- Whether telehealth should extend beyond connectivity within and between physical healthcare centers and operate towards a connected care everywhere model
- How USF can positively impact existing telehealth initiatives
- How to effectively increase broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas especially among low income households
To continue the discussion on creating a $100 million Connected Care Pilot Program to support telehealth, the FCC is going to hold an open meeting on August 2, 2018 at FCC headquarters at 445 12th Street S.W. in Washington D.C to discuss many of the topics included in the Notice of Inquiry. Other topics of concern to the FCC and the public will also be discussed at the meeting.
The FCC Open Meeting will be streamed live at https://www.fcc.gov/live and can be followed on social media with #OpenMtgFCC.
Go to https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-352540AI.pdf for more information on the Notice of Inquiry.