FCC, FDA take teamwork approach to telemedicine

Goal is to 'streamline review' of wireless broadband medical devices

The Federal Communications Commission and the Food and Drug Administration say they are taking a team approach to regulating wireless telemedicine and telehealth systems and will hold joint public hearings on that plan in July.

The goal of the sessions is to “streamline [the] review process for lifesaving wireless medical technology,” the agencies said in a news release June 15.

The FCC, which oversees communications, and the FDA, which oversees medical devices, separately have dealt with regulation for wireless telemedicine and telehealth applications used in remote locations to deliver health information or care. Examples include remote patient monitoring equipment and smart phone applications for health alerts that contact care providers.

The agencies said the goal of their joint public meeting is to ensure they work closely to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the devices. The sessions will be held in the FCC Commission Room, 445 12th St. SW, Washington, D.C, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on July 26 and 27.

“This joint initiative reflects a shared commitment on behalf of the FCC and FDA to promote investment and innovation in the health technologies that will save lives and help address some of our nation’s health care challenges,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said.

In the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, the commission said its work to advance broadband communications will help foster the use of remote medical devices to reduce costs and improve care. Under the economic stimulus law, the Commerce and Agriculture departments are distributing $7 billion to help build out rural broadband networks.

About the Author

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

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