In an attempt to make ‘remote medicine’ a reality, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s National Broadband Plan includes a 25-page section on health care; wherein the Department of Health and Human Services has been urged to give “top priority” to e-care projects.
While one of the key health-care-related suggestions by the FCC is the creation of a health care broadband infrastructure fund for ensuring that all health care facilities nationwide have ample connectivity; the commission also suggested that all health records should be put into a secure database that is easily accessible from anywhere by patients and their authorized care-givers.
The FCC report, citing a study, said that the mere switching of all providers to electronic health systems with on-screen prompts for physicians to recommend influenza and pneumonia vaccinations would save around 39,000 lives every year. Moreover, nearly $1.2 billion can be saved annually if the movement of patients from remedial health-care facilities to physicians’ offices can be avoided.
Furthermore, video consultation and other “tele-health” methods can result in substantial savings too – with health-care facilities getting remote access to top-notch specialists, without the need to have them on their payroll.
Noting that the US has a lot of catching to do in terms of ‘remote’ health-care, the FCC said that the country “ranks in the bottom half (out of 11 countries) on every metric used to measure adoption” of the electronic medium for health care.