According to the Brainerd Dispatch, Senator Franken was in Brainerd last week talking with local leaders about broadband and telehealth in the area…
Maureen Ideker, Director of Telehealth for Essentia Health, talked about how rural doctors use broadband for telemedicine, or health care conducted via phone, internet and video conferencing. For example, doctors can help detect congestive heart failure by having patients regularly weigh themselves and send in the results via the web, she said. If the data shows a weight gain of several pounds in just a few days, that could mean the patient’s heart isn’t functioning property. Telemedicine helps patients limit health care expenses and travel, and it allows them more freedom in their living situations, she said.
“There’s a lot of money to be saved,” she said. “(It keeps) patients in their homes longer.”
Medicare should allow reimbursement for more types of telemedicine providers, including audiologists, pharmacists, and speech pathologists, she said. A bill recently passed by the Minnesota Legislature on telemedicine would serve as an excellent template for nationwide Medicare reform, she said.
The Chamber of Commerce president noted that broadband is an investment that even folks who are fiscally conservative support…
Matt Kilian, president of the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, said although the majority of chamber members were fiscally conservative, they were unified behind the idea of helping foster rural broadband development because it helps business grow.
“You have communities that are at an immediate disadvantage for economic development because a business won’t start up or expand if there’s not broadband access,” he said. “I don’t think it happens without some type of incentive or subsidy.
Franken mentioned that a telecommunications bill was being designed for introduction in the fall.