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Study: Broadband Health Care Networks Improve Care for Rural Americans

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Released: August 13, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

August 13, 2012
Mark Wigfield, 202-418-0253



Washington, D.C. – Broadband health care networks improve the quality and reduce the cost of
delivering care in rural areas, according to a Federal Communications Commission staff report evaluating the
Commission’s Rural Health Care Pilot Program.
The FCC staff report at details the
benefits of the Pilot program, as well as the lessons learned from the Pilot, which supports 50 active projects in
38 states. The five largest projects are statewide networks in California, Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina
and West Virginia, which are on target to connect over 800 health care providers.
Broadband networks of rural and urban providers save lives by providing rural Americans with instant
access to specialized services that are not available in rural areas, saving time that is critical in stroke care and
other emergencies. High-speed broadband networks capable of supporting telemedicine and telehealth
applications also provide rural patients access to more routine telehealth consultations with medical specialists,
efficiently transit health records, and facilitate training of nurses and doctors.
But rural health care providers operate on thin margins, and may not be able to afford broadband
communications without assistance from the FCC’s Rural Health Care program, the report says. The FCC
launched the Pilot in 2006 to explore how best to help rural health care providers harness the power of
broadband to improve care. A map at shows the
location of the pilot projects and of the health care providers participating in each project.
The experiences of those pilot projects are providing critical information to the FCC as it considers
comprehensive reform of its Rural Health Care program. Some examples of benefits from the Pilot-funded
networks include:
Physicians in Bacon County, Georgia saved the life of a young stroke victim by using a
telemedicine connection to a specialist in Savannah in order to administer clot-busting
Remote psychiatric consultations for patients in rural South Carolina hospitals that lack staff
psychiatrists speeds treatment and save days of waiting in expensive emergency rooms
Hospitals in South Dakota’s Heartland Unified Broadband Network have saved $1.2 million
in expenses through electronic intensive care unit services, which reduce the number of days
patients spend in ICU and the number of transfers to other hospitals
Wireline Competition Bureau Staff Contact: Chin Yoo at 202-418-0295
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