Health Information Technology
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 Federal Communications Commission approved an initial set of 62 applications for funding commitments totaling $41.98 million for Round 2 of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
The Biden-Harris Administration announced key investments that will strengthen telehealth services in rural and underserved communities and expand telehealth innovation and quality nationwide. These investments—totaling over $19 million—are being distributed to 36 award recipients through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HRSA is making these key investments through the following telehealth programs:
Governors have championed the importance of increasing affordable broadband access and play a critical role in expanding access to services via telehealth, both in providing emergency connections during the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and paving the way for enhanced and broader service in the years ahead. Many governors have enhanced health care services via telehealth by using a combination of the following strategies:
Mayo Clinic Health System unveiled its new mobile health clinic on June 28th as a way to improve health care access for those in rural communities. The mobile clinic includes two exam rooms and an onsite laboratory bringing health care directly to patients, for in-person care or virtual care via the onsite telehealth equipment.
Buggy websites and complex online tools are being used to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments across the United States. The systems are hard to navigate for many people, but they’re particularly inaccessible for older adults.
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Fitbit by Google. The approval is conditional on full compliance with a commitments package offered by Google. The decision follows an in-depth investigation of the proposed transaction, which combines Google's and Fitbit's complementary activities. Fitbit has a limited market share in Europe in the fast-growing smartwatch segment where many larger competitors are present, such as Apple, Garmin and Samsung.