Today is National Rural Health Care Day, providing an opportunity to honor the life-saving role that rural health care providers play in their communities, and to focus on how broadband technologies can help them do their jobs even better.
Broadband-powered health information technology is critically important in rural areas, where it can overcome the barriers of distance to connect providers to cutting-edge resources that would otherwise be out of reach. Unfortunately, there are many challenges in funding, implementing and sustaining the use of broadband-powered health IT.
One important resource to tackle this challenge is the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program, which includes the new Healthcare Connect Fund. The program provides funding to eligible health care providers (HCPs) for telecommunications and broadband services necessary for the provision of health care. The goal of the program is to improve the quality of health care available to patients, especially in rural communities, by ensuring that eligible HCPs have access to telecommunications and broadband services. Funding for the Rural Health Care Program is capped at $400 million annually.
Through the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program, thousands of eligible health care providers across the nation have been able to expand connectivity and thus adopt health technology applications to:
- Increase access to health care and medical expertise, especially in hard to serve areas
- Improve patient care by utilizing data to improve health care strategies
- Reduce health care costs by using information to improve efficiency of care delivery
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn says that rural communities “are at the core of what makes America a great nation. As we celebrate National Rural Health Care Day, I am proud of the FCC’s support for programs and technologies that continue to foster improved awareness and healthier communities throughout the country.”
The FCC is working closely with its federal partners: http://www.healthit.gov/buzz-blog/local-implementation-support/onc-orhp-rural-health/ to help rural healthcare providers embrace opportunities and overcome challenges in delivering high quality health care to all Americans.