Last week at the Commission meeting, the Broadband Taskforce outlined key gaps in broadband service that need to be addressed. There are connectivity gaps in the healthcare sector that I think are important and worth highlighting.
Hospitals and clinics need to empower a range of applications such as Electronic Health Records, Diagnostic imaging and Tele-radiology. There is a connectivity gap within healthcare.
Every day physicians have to treat patients, and their previous medical history is not available on the hospitals' local databases.
This is more common than not: it happens every time such a patient is brought into a hospital network that they haven't visited before. It can also occur when a patient visits their regular hospital but the site has misplaced their hand-written notes or hard copies of their imaging scans.
Today, those doctors are forced to act without the knowledge that a previous radiological scan would show them about the patients' baseline disease state. The technology exists so that they could pull up that diagnostic image in real time, from the imaging center where it was performed. But such technology requires a 100 mbps broadband connection -- a fiber connection -- which many hospitals lack.
Furthermore, the healthcare ecosystem must be more robust in order for broadband to really benefit healthcare outcomes and cost. Some things that would constitute a strong ecosystem include training and implementation assistance and even reimbursement considerations. Currently, telemedicine usage is hindered by state physician licensure and credentialing rules.
Finally, if broadband is going to further national priorities, incentives need to be aligned. A good example is that of reimbursement policy for telemedicine.