Communications technology-enabled solutions that can play an important role in the transformation of healthcare. Media coverage of health issues. And the impact of various media on health.
Health and Media
In October 2019, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society issued Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s. The agenda was comprehensive, constructed upon achievements in communities and insights from experts across the nation. The report outlined the key building blocks of broadband policy—deployment, competition, community anchor institutions, and digital equity (including affordability and adoption).
Community anchor institutions should be at the center of any comprehensive national strategy to promote the availability and use of High-Performance Broadband. Community anchor institutions use broadband to provide essential services to their community, such as education, information access, and telehealth services. But in the 21st century, community anchors’ missions are moving beyond their walls. Libraries no longer deliver knowledge that is housed only within their buildings or the covers of hardbound books.
What happens when a prime time TV show becomes a potential healthcare policy direction, plus a side helping of broadband adoption strategy? An episode of the NBC TV medical melodrama New Amsterdam inspired a five-city telehealth pilot project involving barbershops and hair salons. The show’s medical director had a brilliant idea to enlist barbershops in African-American neighborhoods to screen customers for hypertension (high blood pressure), which leads to an overwhelming majority of the 140,000 stroke-related deaths a year.
Bridging the digital divide can help address our nation’s persistent health disparities. Rural Americans not only face limited access to health-care facilities, but “suffer from higher rates of obesity, mental health issues, diabetes, cancer, and opioid addiction.” But the tie that also binds is the lack of high-speed broadband connectivity in low-income communities, too. Rural America, as you know, is facing a physician shortage and low-income and rural populations are less likely to have choice when it comes to broadband providers.
Perhaps the biggest news of the week was the agenda for the Federal Communications Commission's July 10 Open Meeting, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai laid out in a blog post on June 18, 2019. I'm traveling to New York this week; below is a shorter-than-usual weekly that takes a look at how Chairman Pai plans to take education out of the Educational Broadband Service -- and broadcast television.
The Benton Foundation unequivocally opposes any proposals from the Federal Communications Commission that would allow the FCC to shirk its responsibilities to meet its Congressionally-mandated mission. The FCC is supposed to ensure:
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) requests input from community health stakeholders, technology developers, and other interested parties about how digital health technologies are used, or could be used in the future, to transform community health, individual wellness, and health equity.
Medicare Beneficiaries’ Use of Telehealth in 2020: Trends by Beneficiary Characteristics and Location
This research report examines changes in Medicare fee-for-service Part B visits and use of telehealth in 2020 during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) by beneficiary characteristics, provider specialty, and location. The analysis found that Medicare in-person visits dropped while telehealth visits increased significantly at the start of the pandemic. Subsequently, telehealth visits declined before plateauing by the end of 2020. Visits to behavioral health specialists showed the largest increase in telehealth. Most telehealth visits were from the beneficiary's home.
The House Commerce Committee passed 12 bipartisan bills on November 17, 2021. The Committee passed the following telecommunications bills:
Telemedicine startups are confronting a hodgepodge of state regulations, complicating their efforts to expand their services nationwide. Companies that provide care over the web or through mobile devices scaled up rapidly during the pandemic, as overcrowding at hospitals led to more patients meeting doctors virtually. Aiding startups’ growth were temporary waivers of restrictions on telemedicine that many states enacted, including a requirement that doctors be licensed in their state to provide virtual care.