Neonatal telemedicine in Hastings, Faribault, New Ulm, Buffalo, Cambridge and Minneapolis

I’m written about neonatal care in Cambridge and Mayo Clinic but it looks like it’s spreading as Becker Hospital Review reports…

Minneapolis-based Children’s Minnesota Health System will provide neonatal care delivered via telemedicine technology to six hospitals across Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to a Feb. 20 news release.

The partnering hospitals include Regina Medical Center (Hastings, Minn.), District One Hospital (Faribault, Minn.), New Ulm (Minn.) Medical Center, Buffalo (Minn.) Hospital, Cambridge (Minn.) Medical Center and Western Wisconsin Health (Baldwin, Wis.).

Through the partnerships, physicians can participate in a virtual consultation using audio and video technology with a neonatal clinician from Children’s Minnesota.

“Expert, specialized care should be available to all newborns, regardless of where they’re born,” said Mark Bergeron, MD, director of special care nurseries and neonatal virtual care at Children’s Minnesota. “These partnerships bring us one step closer to that reality…”

Senator Smith talks housing and telehealth on reservations in Northern Minnesota

Duluth News Tribune reports on Senator Smith’s recent visit to the American Indian Community Housing Organization and Fond du Lac Center for American Indian Resources. The visit focused largely on access to housing and healthcare. Broadband came up as a tool to help with health care…

Solutions may require thinking outside the box. Increased access to broadband could bring more telehealth opportunities — allowing doctors to treat patients without traveling hundreds of miles. Better access to affordable child care could help recruit professionals to smaller communities.

And while broadband didn’t specifically come up in the discussion of encouraging more young people to go into health care, I think that remote classes might help, especially if part of the end goal is to facilitate more telehealth…

Smith said there will not be a “simple fix” to rural health care woes, but told the News Tribune at the end of her visit that the firsthand accounts provide valuable guidance for her work.

“I think one of the biggest things we need to do is figure out how to help young people understand what opportunities there are for really fulfilling and purposeful and profitable careers in health care beyond the idea of going to medical school,” she said. “We need people to go to medical school, but we also need physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners and nurse assistants and personal-care attendants.

“There’s a whole continuum of opportunities that we need to get people interested in.”

Broadband is transforming school thanks to groups like ECMECC that support the network

Ed Scoop reports on digital learning based on a recent webinar hosted by

Digital learning not only plays a crucial role in preparing today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow, it also has an important role in providing more equitable access to education, especially in smaller and remote school districts.

The webinar featured Minnesota’s own Marc Johnson who spoke about the role for an organization such as ECMECC

Marc Johnson, executive director of the East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative, who joined Fox on the webinar, said Minnesota has 18 regional networks, most of which now use leased fiber-optic networks. This provides the state with a scalable infrastructure, he said, and by monitoring disruptions and usage levels, administrators can buy additional bandwidth to accommodate future growth.

The ECMECC staff provides instructional technology support for districts, which is especially important for smaller ones that may not have full-time tech support people of their own. The staff also manage the network’s shared firewall and other security features that help to prevent cyberattacks. A data center, meanwhile, provides off-site storage and backup.

Moving forward, Johnson and his team will be facilitating schools’ implementation of 1:1 device initiatives, and the introduction of more 21st century digital courses. Districts can make their own through a process he called “curriculum adaptation,” rather than curriculum adoption.

A key aspect of this type of teaching and learning is the increased use of interactive video for online field trips or other activities. Examples include the opportunity for high school students taking health classes to observe and interact with medical personnel as they perform procedures, or observe a musician in a distant city teaching classes and leading rehearsals.

This type of distance learning can be especially valuable for smaller rural districts, but also for underfunded districts in urban areas that may not have the resources to send students to other parts of the city.

EVENT Feb 27 #DLDay Webinar: Innovate! Every Classroom, Every Day with Digital Learning

A fun, free event for educators to celebrate Digital Learning Day

Innovate! Every Classroom, Every Day with Digital Learning

February 27, 2020
12 pm EST


  • Evan Marwell, Founder & CEO, Education SuperHighway
  • Matthew Mayo, Director of Technology, Edgecombe County School District (NC)
  • Erin Swanson, Director of Innovation,  Edgecombe County School District (NC)
  • Jake Ragusa, Director of IS and Technology, Ascension Public Schools (LA)
  • Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission


  • Brianna Hodges, Future Ready Instructional Coaches Advisor,Future Ready Schools®@bhodgesEDU
  • Thomas C. Murray, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools®, Alliance for Excellent Education, @thomascmurray
  • Dr. Adam Phyall, III, EdD,  Future Ready Advisor and Director of Technology and Media Services, Newton Public Schools (GA), @AskAdam3

*Additional panelists will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.

On Digital Learning Day 2020, states, districts, and schools will show how innovation occurs in every classroom, every day, through the effective use of technology. To kick off this year’s celebration, we will take a behind the scenes look inside schools from around the county to show how educators are shifting their mindsets, leveraging technology as a tool for learning, and being empowered to reframe learning experiences each day.

Our hosts, Brianna Hodges, Adam Phyall, and Tom Murray will share and discuss the success stories from schools and districts across the country. They will highlight innovative programs such as a statewide network that provides internet access for each student, effective one-to-one implementation, and examples of how schools break down barriers to ensure that each student has access to opportunities.

The program also will include Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who will share an update on work being done to close access gaps in connectivity.

Our hosts will discuss

  • how a robust infrastructure provides a conduit for shifting teaching and learning practices;
  • ways in which professional learning supports teachers to shift their practice;
  • how communities are working together to make experiences more learner-centered; and
  • ways in which districts are keeping equity in the forefront of their decision making.

You won’t want to miss the opportunity to be inspired by the amazing success stories we will share this Digital Learning Day!

Digital health clinic for men and MN bill to facilitate telemedicine for men

I read a lot of different things in a day. But I don’t read a lot about erectile dysfunction, until this week. I have been reading the bill as they have been introduced this week to scan for anything related to broadband. I have a growing list that I will share soon of items that have a loose connection. Doing that I ran into SF2184/HF2150, a bill to allow telemedicine evaluations to be used for erectile dysfunction medication prescribing. It seemed strange, but again not my wheelhouse.

It made more sense once I ran into an article in Fortune magazine on telehealth…

Telehealth firm Ro just launched what it’s dubbing a “digital health clinic for men” via its men’s health-focused arm Roman.

The company, which has its roots in the direct-to-consumer erectile dysfunction market, has recently expanded its ambitions beyond the men’s health space, including with telehealth services for smoking cessation and a vertical meant to advise women who are about to go through menopause.

But the new effort underscores how important the men’s health business is to Ro’s portfolio.

There’s a tie into medications…

I spoke with Ro’s CEO, Zachariah Reitano, a few weeks ago about a separate project the company was working on—a partnership with drug giant Pfizer meant to leapfrog the company’s rivals in the generic Viagra space.

Here’s how Reitano described the importance of that partnership: “I compare it to buying coffee. You can buy coffee at two different places. All the coffee contains caffeine. But so many things go into making that cup of coffee that go into the quality of that product and experience.”

The comparison is intriguing. And Ro’s efforts in this crowded market could be a signal for how other telehealth companies follow.

So I mention this as a new avenue for telehealth and maybe a civics lesson.

MN farmers upload overnight? Maybe ag policy can change that. Mtg Feb 13 at 9:45am

Tomorrow (Feb 13) at 9:45, the Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division is meeting at the State Office Building (Room 200). I hope to attend and livestream, in preparation I wanted to check out the MN Department of Agriculture’s legislative report on emerging farmers.

The report defines emerging farmers and distills what they learned from a series of listening sessions with farmers across the state. They  broke up the notes into 11 themes:

  1. Financial Barriers
  2. Discrimination/Racism/Sexism
  3. Land Availability and Prices
  4. Health Insurance/Rural Health Care
  5. Available Resources Serve Larger-Scale Agriculture
  6. Education/Training Resources
  7. Climate Change
  8. Market Access and Infrastructure
  9. Culturally Appropriate Resources
  10. Navigating Regulations
  11. And Broadband Availability

Here’s what they say about broadband…

Many participants cited online resources like videos, reports, and peer-to-peer learning platforms as primary methods for finding information about farming. Implicit in these resources is the ability to access and use the Internet. The issue of broadband availability is widely discussed in the State as a key component to rural vitality and viability. (Minnesota Office of Broadband Development). Most efforts in expanding broadband access focus on download speeds of 25 megabytes per second (Mbps), which allows enough speed for video streaming without interference. Minnesota has a plan to achieve statewide 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds by 2022. Currently, 92.7 percent of Minnesotans have access to this level of service, though that number is lower in rural areas with just 83.7 percent of households served at this speed. Further effort to expand broadband service and improve speeds is an important part of supporting emerging farmers’ access to educational resources and networking. 18

One part of the broadband effort that is often overlooked is the upload speed. Upload speeds are important for users that are creating data or content to put online, such as e-commerce sites, or using any sort of smart-farming technology (GPS, sensor-based data collection, etc.) Most broadband initiatives consider upload speeds of 3Mbps as high-speed, but users at this speed are often left with slow or non-usable connections during the upload. Some farmers report leaving their computers on overnight to upload data from their sensors, or they struggle to update social media or inventory on their e-commerce websites.

Broadband is critically important for many rural and urban development strategies, including healthcare access, commerce, teleworking, and continuing education. Both upload and download speeds should be considered in any public or private investments in broadband. Additional attention toward adoption and use, beyond just infrastructure and deployment, is also critical for any broadband initiative.

Compared to racism and climate change, broadband availability seems pretty attainable; it relies on infrastructure and not changing opinions or habits. And once won, broadband can help address other themes – such affordable access to healthcare through telehealth, online access to training resources – even culturally appropriate resources, online market access (via websites, social media and more) and access to information (in multiple languages) and people to help find out about available land or navigate regulations.

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program application open until April 10, 2020

Big news, big opportunity

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy today announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to help increase access to education, training and health care resources in rural communities.
USDA is making $71.7 million in grants available under the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program. This program helps rural communities use telecommunications-based audio and video equipment to connect teachers, students, medical providers and rural residents with each other and the world.
Applicants in rural areas of 20,000 people or less who provide education or health care services through
telecommunications facilities are eligible to apply. Applications will be scored, reviewed and selected on a
competitive basis.
Applications must be submitted to the applicant’s nearest USDA office or electronically via by
April, 10, 2020. For more information, visit

Learn more and good luck!