National broadband plan promotes health IT, telemedicine

Plan calls for e-care incentives and regulation

The Federal Communication Commission’s national strategy for broadband issued today emphasizes health care, including electronic health record adoption and use, health data exchanges, telemedicine and mobile health services.

The National Broadband Plan makes 11 recommendations for using high-speed broadband networks to increase the use of electronic health records, health data exchange and telemedicine, or “e-care.”

E-care is defined by the FCC as the electronic exchange of information — data, images and video — help the practice of medicine and advanced analytics. E-care also is referred to as telehealth or telemedicine. When applied in mobile devices, it is sometimes called "MHealth" or "mobile health."

For telemedicine, the FCC also calls for the federal government to expand reimbursements and to remove barriers to adoption by updating regulations to for device approval, credentialing, privileging and licensing.

“Congress and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) should consider developing a strategy that documents the proven value of e-care technologies, proposes reimbursement reforms that incent their meaningful use and charts a path for their widespread adoption,” the plan states.

The FCC suggests working with the Food and Drug Administration to clarify regulatory requirements and the approval process for “converged” devices that are used both for communications and health care.

The plan has garnered the support of the American Telemedicine Association.

"These changes will greatly improve the quality of care, lower costs and improve access to healthcare to all Americans," said Jonathan Linkous, chief executive of the association. "We encourage Congress and the Administration to approve and implement these recommendations without delay.”

The plan also sees creating a Health Care Broadband Infrastructure Fund to subsidize health care delivery locations where existing networks aren't sufficient. In addition to hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices, the broadband grants should be made available to nursing homes, health care administrative offices, health care data centers and other locations, the plan said.

The FCC also recommended that the Indian Health Service get up to $29 million a year to upgrade its broadband services.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group