At its August Open Meeting later this week, the FCC will vote on a Notice of Inquiry into developing a “Connected Care Pilot Program.” This program would promote connecting telehealth services to low-income consumers and veterans, particularly those who live in rural areas, through broadband-enabled healthcare services delivered outside the scope of traditional healthcare facilities, such as remote patient monitoring and mobile health applications. The item proposes a pilot program that would provide $100 million in funding to approximately 20 pilot projects.
Telehealth approaches combine telecommunications and health systems to deliver care across distances. A range of increasingly sophisticated technologies — matched with a need in the United States to reduce healthcare costs, serve more patients and improve quality — is driving the telehealth field in both high-income and low-income geographies, and producing impressive results. In low-income communities, a mobile device can serve as a vital tool for healthcare workers to connect, communicate and engage in the care and treatment of remote patients, and remote patient monitoring can reduce ER and hospital visits and days of inpatient care.
Focusing on ways to improve healthcare through technology is a top priority for AT&T. Two years ago, we teamed up with the Texas Medical Center (TMC) to open up the AT&T Foundry innovation center for Connected Health in Houston. We’re hard at work helping to connect digital health, medical device and IoT startups from around the world with members of the TMC community to develop new products and find better ways to meet the challenges within the healthcare space.
The Connected Care Pilot Program focused on telehealth represents another innovative step by the FCC toward the goal of ensuring universal access to 21st century broadband services for all Americans. AT&T looks forward to working with the Commission and other stakeholders to make this pilot a success.