Gathering Input to Tackle Gaps
The FCC also released a Public Notice in April seeking comments, data and information on a range of regulatory, policy, technical and infrastructure issues to help accelerate the adoption and accessibility of broadband-enabled healthcare solutions.
The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) was among those who heeded the call. While research in this realm is still in its infancy, there is a growing body of work suggesting that connectivity, or lack thereof, could impact the health of individuals and entire populations. Within its comments, AMIA pointed to a Journal of Medical Internet Research study that revealed mobile health technologies relying on broadband services have a wide adoption variance based on geography, population density and socioeconomic status.
Related: How is health IT evolving in 2017?
In addition, research published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association revealed that while patient portals have shown promise for improved quality and efficiency, lower rates of use were found for racial and ethnic minorities, patients of lower socioeconomic status and those without neighborhood broadband access. Internet access and other factors influencing usage could worsen health disparities, the study concluded.
Using the input from stakeholders across the country as well as information gathered in response to the recent Connect2Health Public Notice, the task force is in the process of making recommendations to the commission about how to best design broadband health policy that can meet the needs of rural and underserved Americans.