FCC backs telehealth plan
July 17, 2019
By Chris Forrester
The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) has welcomed a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to establish a connected care pilot program that would provide an 85 per cent discount on connectivity for broadband-enabled telehealth services that connect patients directly to their doctors.
The proposed three-year pilot would bring telehealth services and digital connectivity to low-income patients and would also target tribal lands and rural areas lacking adequate connectivity.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) adopted by the FCC seeks comments on testing the new initiative, using the FCC’s existing Rural Health Care Program authority, that would defray the costs of purchasing broadband Internet access service necessary for providing connected care services directly to low-income patients and veterans.
“Bridging the digital divide and ensuring all Americans have access to broadband connectivity is about more than just the convenience of streaming entertainment or a requirement for business, government and education – connectivity is fast becoming an essential way of providing high quality medical care,” said Tom Stroup, President of the SIA. “In a recent think tank meeting organised by the FCC and the National Cancer Institute, I discussed how satellite broadband can provide connectivity which is so important in the treatment of cancer patients. SIA applauds the FCC for this new telehealth proposal and we look forward to working with the Commission on this and other initiatives aimed at helping ensure all Americans have access to broadband and quality connected health care.”