FCC looks to extend broadband to rural healthcare providers

During the FCC's open meeting last week, the commission introduced a $400-million program designed to extend broadband services to rural healthcare providers.

Via the proposed fund, the agency wants to extend enhanced medical diagnostic tools, which are typically  only available in large medical centers in urban areas, to patients in rural areas.

FCC plans to increase the percentage it subsidizes for health provider service costs from 25 percent to 50 percent. In addition, the commission said it would also front 85 percent of the construction costs to either build new or expand existing broadband networks in regions that lack appropriate network infrastructure to support advanced health care IT applications such as medical imaging and electronic medical record keeping.

Approximately 30 percent of federally funded rural health care clinics can't afford broadband services, while only 8 percent of Indian Health Service providers have broadband access to support their health care applications for patients, according to FCC statistics.

For more:
- see the FCC release
- take a look at this Washington Post article

Related articles:
FCC wants to refocus USF on broadband access
Despite opportunity, wireless hesitates on mobile health
AT&T wins $27 million telehealth contract

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