Broadband. . .it’s good for your health (and pocketbook)

I had a constituent ask me why I supported vigorous broadband expansion; “why do we need to watch movies faster online.”

Here is one reason to . As reported in this article:

Millions of Americans who live in rural areas travel long distances to get health care. Or they may go without it. But high-speed Internet connections now make it possible to bring a doctor’s expertise to patients in far-off places, if those places are connected.

How many residents of District 13 must drive to Birmingham or Montgomery for consultations or follow-ups for surgeries? How many require family and friends to drive them? One lady states

She’ll have to set aside money for gas and tolls, and she’ll have to arrange for someone to drive her. “It’s gonna come out of my food money because I can’t take it out of anywhere else. That’s my choices. … If I don’t pay my property tax or my PG&E [electric] bill, then I don’t have a home,” she says.

High-speed internet can greatly eliminate this problem.  “If you have rural connectivity for health care, then patients don’t have to drive two or three or four hours for their treatments — instead, [they] can stay back where they live, consult with a medical profession[al] remotely,” Genachowski says.

The article includes one account:

In a recent conference, Laura McKewan sat in a chair in front of a camera at a clinic 300 miles away in Eureka. She has Addison’s disease, a rare condition that affects the adrenal glands. McKewan would have to drive six hours to San Francisco to see an endocrinologist, so she jumped at the chance to consult with Semrad.

“I’m so excited. I don’t think you could get a more enthusiastic patient,” McKewan told Semrad.

She’s been suffering from serious fatigue that might be related to her condition. Her primary care doctor hasn’t been able to help. But Semrad probes.

She spends an hour with McKewan. When she’s done, Semrad will write up her recommendations and put them on a secure server where McKewan’s primary care doctor can get them immediately. .

According recent testimony by Jay Maxwell, president of Prixius, before the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources:

Remote disease management is a new and effective way to measure and monitor health status in the comfort of a patients living situation, and to give physicians and nurses access to medical information right away so they can quickly identify any changes that need to be addressed. This method of measuring and monitoring health status is interactive, easy to use, affordable, and can provide vital health information to not only the clinical care team but the patient’s family as well. . .  However, none of this is possible without access to a quality high-speed broadband Internet connection . . While this access is common in urban and suburban areas, it is almost a luxury in rural America. Is it a coincidence that rural America is also an area that is unserved or underserved by medical facilities and practitioners? Rural America is an area with a population that is aging and placing increased demands on scarce healthcare resources.”

Healthcare is just one application of the next generation infrastructure which I have advocated. I believe it is critical to, not only, rural and urban communities’ basic survival but also to their global competitiveness.


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