Mobile healthcare, telemedicine, telehealth, BYOD

Policy News

Fast Internet Speed Crucial for Doctors and Patients

By Vera Gruessner

- Internet access is a requirement for the majority of businesses, medical organizations, hospitals, police stations, and even fire departments across the nation. Today, the world would not function without quick and easy access to the Internet, which has truly revolutionized the day-to-day functions of consumers and professionals. Additionally, Internet speed is a major component of ensuring that healthcare providers and other professionals achieve timely access to pertinent information.

High-Speed Internet Access

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently updated healthcare providers with the national broadband map tool, which allows any users to determine Broadband or Internet speed in their particular location or neighborhood.

Eligible hospitals and healthcare providers that are participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs would benefit from the use of the national broadband map tool because it would allow them to find out their broadband download and Internet speed for determining exclusion criteria.

The national broadband map can be used to search, study, and track Internet speed and Internet access in one’s location to see if any exclusions under the EHR Incentive Programs apply to their healthcare establishment.

When using the program, the summarize tool can be helpful, as it allows one to select their county and state before proceeding to a summary of one’s broadband speed details. A results page pops up with a full summary of broadband availability in one’s county.

There should also be a section called the Broadband Speed Test, which should provide the “median broadband speed for housing units in your area,” CMS reports. Providers should be sure to print and save this data for their records.

The download speed, in particular, is important for healthcare providers applying for exclusions under the EHR Incentive Programs. To learn more about Internet speed and access, please visit the National Telecommunications & Information Administration website as well as the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website page.

As previously reported by mHealthIntelligence.com, high-speed Internet access is vital for ensuring mobile health applications are utilized across the medical care spectrum. Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced that the entity will be working toward ensuring neighborhoods across the nation have access to high-speed and affordable Internet access.

With the large prevalence of mobile devices including smart phones and tablets, the American consumer is in need of high-speed Internet access. The Pew Research Center reported that approximately 67 percent of Americans own and use a smart phone today and about 20 percent use the device to access information online and remain virtually connected to their surroundings.

“Young adults – 85 percent of whom are smartphone owners – are also incorporating their mobile devices into a host of information seeking and transactional behaviors,” the Pew Research Center reported. “About three-quarters of 18-29 year old smartphone owners have used their phone in the last year to get information about a health condition; about seven-in-ten have used their phone to do online banking or to look up information about job; 44 percent have consumed educational content on their phone; and 34 percent have used their phone to apply for a job.”

Many may not have other options for Internet access and lack broadband at home. As such, high-speed Internet access via a mobile phone is vital for these individuals. As many as 7 percent of Americans don’t have broadband at home nor other options for using online services other than their phone.

“Compared with smartphone owners who are less reliant on their mobile devices, smartphone-dependent users are less likely to own some other type of computing device, less likely to have a bank account, less likely to be covered by health insurance, and more likely to rent or to live with a friend or family member rather than own their own home,” the Pew Research Center stated in its report.

Clearly, low-income individuals are more reliant on their smart phones for online access as well as mobile health application needs. To ensure that smartphone-dependent users receive necessary medical information and otherwise meet their needs, it is vital for the federal government to work toward ensuring online access and increasing Internet speed across the nation.

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