Medical Licensure Compacts makes Telehealth easier in Minnesota

MHealth Intelligence reports on policies that will smooth the path to more telehealth usage…

More than 3,000 US physicians have received permission to practice in multiple states through the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, giving them the opportunity to expand their practice through telehealth and telemedicine.

According to the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission, a branch of the Federation of State Medical Boards, 3,426 medical licenses have been by medical boards in member states since the launch of the Compact in April 2017. The IMLCC, meanwhile, has processed 1,867 applications and 497 licenses have been renewed through the compact.

Minnesota part of the compact…

Launched as a means of expediting the licensure process for physicians looking to practice in more than one state, the compact has been approved in the District of Colombia, Guam and 24 states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Iron Range Rep Ecklund positive about future state broadband funding

The Mesabi Daily News reports on the impact of the elections on the Iron Range…

Three of the Iron Range districts in the Minnesota House will be in the majority come January after Democrats flipped 18 seats in the chamber for a seven-seat advantage.

The Senate remains Republican controlled by one vote, setting up the only split Legislature in the nation, alongside DFL Gov. Tim Walz.

Tuesday’s midterm election produced DFL winners in Dave Lislegard (House 6B), Julie Sandstede (House 6A) and Rob Ecklund (House 3A). Republican Sandy Layman won re-election in House 5B.

And some optimism on broadband funding in the legislature…

Ecklund said he believes the House changing will positively impact the 3A district.

“I think we’ll see some serious money going into rural broadband,” Ecklund told the Ely Echo. “It will be good for all of northeastern Minnesota and all of rural Minnesota. I look at broadband as a utility.”

New Toolkit to Answer Your Library’s Tech Questions

There’s a new toolkit to help rural and tribal librarians work with technology. It includes things like:

  • Technology Inventory
  • Types of broadband services and activities they support
  • Technical staff and support required
  • Broadband funding (E-rate and more)
  • Best practices – including training, acceptable use policies and filtering
  • Technology planning templates

Some parts are pretty library-specific but many could spur conversations with other community institutions or communities in general. You can learn more from this handy video…

Tracking Legislature that Expands Broadband

Pew recently posted an article on federal and state legislation aimed at expanding broadband. Here’s the federal legislation…

Since January 2017, the beginning of the 115th Congress, lawmakers have addressed broadband in many bills. Here’s a breakdown of several notable measures by theme:

Funding and authorizing broadband expansion: The fiscal year 2018 spending bill that President Donald Trump signed in March included $600 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) “e-Connectivity Pilot Program,” which will support broadband projects in rural areas. The spending law also gives the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) $7.5 million to work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enhance the national broadband map, which depicts broadband availability and speed across the country.

Legislation proposed for this fiscal year would provide more funds for  USDA’s e-Connectivity Pilot Program: $550 million in the House-passed version of the Department of Agriculture appropriations bill and $425 million in the Senate-passed version. Pending legislation would also maintain funding for NTIA’s map modernization effort.

The 2018 farm bill—legislation authorizing federal agriculture and rural development programs—has not yet been signed into law, but the House- and Senate-passed versions would authorize new USDA grants for rural broadband deployment projects. The Senate version also includes up to $50 million for the existing Community Connect grant program.

Bolstering research: The fiscal 2018 spending law also includes measures to bolster federal government research on broadband connectivity. It requires the FCC to issue a report to Congress on the status of broadband availability to military veterans who are low-income or live in rural areas. It also requires the FCC to establish a methodology for consistently collecting wireless coverage data about speed and reliability. And the fiscal year 2019 John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, which the president signed in August, requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study evaluating the impact of broadband speed and price on small businesses. Another measure, which has not become law, would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis to assess, analyze, and submit a biennial report to Congress regarding the effects of broadband deployment and adoption on the U.S. economy.

Streamlining federal broadband policymaking efforts: Congress is considering measures that would improve the efficiency and execution of federal efforts to expand broadband connectivity. The proposed Senate and House farm bills establish a task force within the FCC for meeting the connectivity and technology needs of precision agriculture in the U.S.  The House bill also establishes minimal acceptable service standards for rural projects seeking funding from the USDA. Other bills streamline the permitting process for broadband deployment projects; establish an Office of Rural Broadband within the FCC to bolster its coordination with other federal agencies; and create an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within NTIA to develop training and guidance to promote broadband development in underserved communities.

In addition to these themes, Congress is also considering measures to expand access in tribal areas and bring or restore broadband to disaster-stricken areas.

They track state legislation by looking at which states provide public funding for broadband, regulatory reform (tax breaks, dig once, et al) and research. From the Minnesota perspective we legiaslation place, such as the statutory speed goals, and we have research in the form of mapping. We have the Office of Broadband Development, which is well regarded. We have the Broadband Task Force, but it sunsets after this year. And in the past we have had state grant funding for broadband, but last year the funding didn’t pass. It will be interesting to see what the new Governor and Legislators due with the current Task Force’s recommendations, which includes an extension for the Task Force and continued funding.

Blockchain voting tested with West Virginians abroad

I thought this was fascinating. The Washington Post reports…

Nearly 140 West Virginians living abroad in 29 countries have cast their election ballots in an unprecedented pilot project that involves voting remotely by mobile device, according to state officials.

Here’s how it works…

The Voatz app has been used on a limited basis in a number of other settings, such as student council races and West Virginia’s May primary. But Election Day represents the company’s biggest test yet.

To cast a ballot, voters must first register through the app by uploading an image of their driver’s license or other photo identification. Then the app instructs them to submit a short video of their own face. Facial recognition technology supplied by a voter’s iPhone or Android device matches the video against the photo ID, and the personal information on the ID is matched to West Virginia’s voter registration database. Once the verification is complete, voters can make their selections and confirm their ballot by fingerprint or facial recognition.

Hilary Braseth, Voatz’s director of product design, said that in addition to using technology for verification, the company also has human workers manually reviewing the submitted information. The company does not store the personal data once a voter’s identity has been confirmed, she said.

Votes are stored on a private blockchain — essentially a database where records are secured using complex computational algorithms — and unlocked by county clerks when the polls close.

“When they take the votes from the blockchain, it will immediately print onto a paper ballot — just like the same look and feel of what voters are physically voting with on Election Day,” Braseth said. “And then those paper ballots will be fed into the tabulating machines on the ground at the state level.”

Overseas voters who used Voatz will receive an anonymized copy of the ballot that they submitted remotely; another copy will be made available to Warner’s office for auditing purposes.

Join a roundtable discussion with the Office of Broadband Development

I was fleshing out events to add to the Broadband Calendar and got a little help from my friends at the MN Office of Broadband Development. They have three roundtable discussions planned in the next few months. I wanted to get the word out in case you were on the fence about attending any of these events. ALSO in case you have a colleague or neighbor who is likely to attend the conference and might attend this session if you encouraged them to learn more about broadband…

  • Broadband and Townships – Roundtable discussion on broadband at MN Association of Township’s 2018 Education Conference – Friday, November 16th, Duluth, DECC  – 1:15 – 3:30pm
  • Broadband and School districts – Roundtable discussion on broadband at MN School Board Association’s 2019 Leadership Conference – Thursday, January 17th, 2019 , Minneapolis, Minneapolis Convention Center –  1:30 – 3:00pm
  • Broadband and Counties – Breakout session on broadband at Association of Minnesota Counties’ 2019 Legislative Conference Feb 13-14 – Date and time TBD.

Blandin Broadband eNews: Broadband activity throughout Minnesota Monthly Recap

Border to Border Broadband: Transforming Minnesota Oct 23-24
The broadband conference was a big hit. You can get video and notes on all of the sessions:

Office of Broadband Development Launches Speed Test
The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development launched a new tool that will allow Minnesotans to test, map and report various broadband internet speeds across the state. https://wp.me/p3if7-4QL

Broadband in the Elections

Local Broadband News

In October, the Blandin on Broadband blog posted broadband profiles for each county in Minnesota:

  1. Aitkin County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Kq
  2. Anoka County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Kt
  3. Becker County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Kw
  4. Beltrami County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Kz
  5. Benton County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KC
  6. Big Stone County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KF
  7. Blue Earth County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KI
  8. Brown County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KL
  9. Carlton County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KP
  10. Carver County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KS
  11. Cass County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KV
  12. Chippewa County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KY
  13. Chisago County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ld
  14. Clay County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Lg
  15. Clearwater County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Lj
  16. Cook County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Lm
  17. Cottonwood County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Lp
  18. Crow Wing County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ls
  19. Dakota County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Lv
  20. Dodge County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ly
  21. Douglas County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LB
  22. Faribault County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LE
  23. Fillmore County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LH
  24. Freeborn County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LK
  25. Goodhue County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LN
  26. Grant County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LQ
  27. Hennepin County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LT
  28. Houston County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LW
  29. Hubbard County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LZ
  30. Isanti County https://wp.me/p3if7-4M5
  31. Itasca County https://wp.me/p3if7-4M8
  32. Jackson County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mb
  33. Kanabec County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Me
  34. Kandiyohi County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mh
  35. Kittson County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mk
  36. Koochiching County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mn
  37. Lac qui Parle County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mq
  38. Lake County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mt
  39. Lake of the Woods County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mw
  40. Le Sueur County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MB
  41. Lincoln County https://wp.me/p3if7-4ME
  42. Lyon County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MH
  43. Mahnomen County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MK
  44. Marshall County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MN
  45. Martin County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MQ
  46. McLeod County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MT
  47. Meeker County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MW
  48. Mille Lacs County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MZ
  49. Morrison County https://wp.me/p3if7-4N2
  50. Mower County https://wp.me/p3if7-4N5
  51. Murray County https://wp.me/p3if7-4N8
  52. Nicollet County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nb
  53. Nobles County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ne
  54. Norman County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nh
  55. Olmsted County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nk
  56. Otter Tail County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nn
  57. Pennington County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nq
  58. Pine County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nt
  59. Pipestone County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nw
  60. Polk County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nz
  61. Pope County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NC
  62. Ramsey County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NF
  63. Red Lake County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NI
  64. Redwood County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NL
  65. Renville County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NO
  66. Rice County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NR
  67. Rock County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NU
  68. Roseau County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NX
  69. Saint Louis County https://wp.me/p3if7-4O0
  70. Scott County https://wp.me/p3if7-4O3
  71. Sherburne County https://wp.me/p3if7-4O6
  72. Sibley County https://wp.me/p3if7-4O9
  73. Stearns County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Oc
  74. Steele County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Of
  75. Stevens County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Oi
  76. Swift County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ol
  77. Todd County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Oo
  78. Traverse County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Or
  79. Wabasha County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ou
  80. Wadena County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ox
  81. Waseca County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OA
  82. Washington County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OD
  83. Watonwan County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OG
  84. Wilkin County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OJ
  85. Winona County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OM
  86. Wright County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OP
  87. Yellow Medicine County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OS

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

We are looking to add MN broadband-related events to the Blandin on Broadband blog calendar. https://wp.me/P3if7-4yG If you have an event you’d like to add please send it to atreacy@treacyinfo.com

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

Moving a community broadband initiative forward requires a mystical blend of community leadership and technical/financial knowledge meeting opportunity.  When I review the many successful broadband projects, I see that each project has a unique mix of these elements.  For me, community leadership is the most interesting facet.  Leadership can emerge from almost anywhere. My friend and former colleague Karl Samp used to say, “The great thing about being in a rural community leader is that you do not need a title, you just have to start doing things.”

Yet there is something essential about having elected officials strongly engaged in these broadband initiatives. Volunteers can gather and analyze information or put together an outline of a strategy or deal. Technical experts can define the best technology options.  But when it comes to actually making things happen, it usually takes a mayor, town supervisor or county commissioner to bring the legal and financial authority of the local government to the table. Convincing local officials to assume that role can be the most challenging task for the local broadband activists. For some leaders, hearing the broadband stories of woe is enough to convince them to act. Other leaders want hard facts  based on data to be convinced. Thankfully, there is a growing set of tools that can provide return on investment (ROI) data for community broadband initiatives.

At the recent Border to Border Broadband Conference, there were two examples of ROI analysis methodologies – one presented by Ann Treacy and Bernadine Joselyn and one created at Purdue University. Luckily, the former model is quite simple to calculate and easily understood. I encourage you to take a look at these session notes and complete the calculator found here.  https://wp.me/p3if7-4PR.  For those reading this with strong data skills, the Purdue model can be found here: https://wp.me/p3if7-4PL. Both models emphasize that the widespread community benefits to broadband investment far exceed the private sector business case for that investment, thus the need for public sector investment to deploy the necessary broadband investment.

For those pursuing improved broadband networks, please take a shot at using these tools with your broadband team.  I think that it will be enlightening for your group – both for the numbers created and possibly more importantly, the discussion that the analysis facilitates with local elected officials.  It would be great to hear your reports.