FCC forms task force to figure out how to expand telemedicine, connected health
March 7, 2014
Health systems have been in various stages of adopting healthcare IT to boost gaps in care with telemedicine technology, remote monitoring services and other technologies to help primary care physicians be more efficient, improve access to specialists and to reduce hospitalizations. The FCC wants to figure outhow to expand this trend in healthcare. It has formed a CONNECT2HEALTH task force to use broadband and communication services to accelerate adoption of advanced healthcare technologies from rural areas to inner cities and determine what infrastructure obstacles stand in the way.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement that “by identifying regulatory barriers and incentives and building stronger partnerships with stakeholders in the areas of telehealth, mobile applications, and telemedicine, we can expedite this vital shift,” according to a statement from the commission.
The move comes one week after the HIMSS conference in Orlando when health IT vendors typically announce partnerships with hospitals and health systems that are ramping up their technology to meet the goals of the Affordable Care Act.
Just this week Time Warner Cable Business Class and Tely Labs said they are collaborating to use their video conferencing technology to do virtual visits with Cleveland Clinic and other providers to lower hospital readmissions, with a focus on cardiac care patients.
One of the biggest challenges with the expansion of telemedicine and mobile health has been reimbursement. Historically telemedicine has been an easier sell to states with big rural populations, predominantly in the Midwest and West. But specialized applications of telemedicine, such as telestroke and tele-ICU, have been more widely adopted.
More than half of U.S. hospitals are using telemedicine in some form to treat patients, according to a study by the American Telemedicine Association.