Health Information Technology

Coalition of Health Providers and Telehealth Networks Urge Congress to Reform the Rural Health Care Program

The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition along with 35 health care providers and telehealth networks from across the country sent a letter to Congressional leaders today asking them to support an increase in funding for the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Health Care (RHC) program. “This is a life and death issue for Rural America,” said John Windhausen, Executive Director of the SHLB Coalition.

C2H Task Force Releases Data Update for Broadband Health Map

The Federal Communications Commission’s Connect2Health Task Force announced updates to its Mapping Broadband Health in America platform. The 2017 platform now reflects the latest complete annual fixed broadband dataset from the Commission and updated health data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings. As telehealth, telemedicine, and other cutting-edge mHealth initiatives gain momentum across the country, this web-based mapping platform enables more efficient, data-driven decision making at the intersection of broadband and health.

Commissioner Clyburn Statement on Data Update for Broadband Health Map

I am pleased that the Commission is demonstrating its continued commitment to the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force and the Mapping Broadband Health in America platform with the release of today’s update. For far too many rural and underserved consumers, the broadband health picture remains bleak By investing in this vital broadband health mapping platform and unveiling a new list of critical need counties, the Commission is providing the data needed to ensure connectivity reaches those communities most in need. I am confident that when relevant stakeholders work together across sectors, we will successfully break boundaries at the intersection of broadband and health policy.

House Oversight Subcommittee Examines Federal Health Care Cybersecurity Efforts in Wake of ‘WannaCry'

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep Tim Murphy (R-PA), held a hearing examining the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) role in cybersecurity efforts within the health care sector. Discussed during the hearing were two reports that HHS was required to submit to Congress, following the implementation of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which became law in 2015. The reports outline the department’s internal cybersecurity processes and industry recommendations for what the federal government and industry can do to improve cybersecurity efforts in the health care sector.

Filing Urges Changes to USF Funded FCC Rural Healthcare-Broadband Programs

TeleQuality Communications filed comments urges changes to the Federal Communications Commission rural healthcare-broadband programs, arguing that the Universal Service Fund (USF) rural healthcare, telecom and e-rate schools and libraries programs would be more effective if they did not operate as isolated silos. TeleQuality, an organization that provides network connectivity for healthcare providers funded, in part, through the USF rural healthcare program. The filing includes some compelling data points, along with some creative ideas for potential reforms to FCC rural healthcare-broadband programs – although some readers may find some of the ideas unrealistic. The most compelling data points in the TeleQuality filing:

  • The number of physicians serving rural areas is insufficient. The filing cites a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) report that found that a majority of rural counties have 1 practitioner serving 3,500 patients when 1 practitioner per 2,000 patients is recommended for adequate care – a finding that confirms similar data that Telecompetitor has reported previously. There is also a shortage of skilled IT personnel in rural areas, TeleQuality argues – another data point that is consistent with previous research on that topic.
  • The number of FCC rural healthcare funding requests from healthcare providers has not increased as dramatically as the amount of funding requested – a phenomenon the filing attributes to the significant bandwidth increases needed to run electronic health records systems. At the same time, the FCC program remains underutilized because some healthcare providers do not have the resources to handle program filing and administration.