CentraCare Health Awarded $324-K Grant For Rural Telehealth Services In Minnesota

According to KXRA...

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding a 324-thousand-dollar grant to CentraCare Health in Saint Cloud to provide telehealth services in rural areas.

Congressman Tom Emmer says the grant will help make behavioral health care services more available for Minnesotans living in the Sixth District. CentraCare Senior Director Rachel Lesch called it “a great opportunity to deliver innovative mental health services in areas not possible before.” The funding will support telehealth networks to deliver 24-hour emergency department consultation services to rural providers.

Expanding Rural Electric Member Coop broadband coverage in Indiana could mean benefits of $12 billion

Purdue University just released a report that looks at the quantitative benefits of investing in broadband – they look specifically at extending/expanding networks deployed by Indiana’s Rural Electric Member Cooperatives (REMCs) – but expanding the network ubiquitously across the state. Here’s what they found…

We estimate the net benefits of broadband investment for the whole state of Indiana is about $12 billion, which is about $1 billion per year annuitized over 20 years at six percent interest rate. Year after year, added government revenues and cost savings would amount to about 27 percent of net benefits in the seven REMCs each year. If the rest of rural Indiana is like these seven Cooperative service areas, then 27 percent of the $1 billion per year would be government revenue and health care cost savings, or $270 million per year. In terms of total net present value of benefits, 27 percent of $12 billion is $3.24 billion in added government revenue and health care cost savings.

It’s interesting to see that 27 percent of the net benefits would be government revenue and health care cost savings. That’s a number taxpayers can use to determine the return of public investment in broadband. Last fall, I looked at community return on public investment in broadband – which came to about $1,850 per household. Taking it a step farther, figuring out how much benefit is there in government revenue and health care savings make it even easier to balance cost with benefit.

The Rural Broadband Association surveys anchor institutions in member areas to determine levels of service

The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA) surveyed anchor institutions in their members’ service areas about their connectivity. Here are some of the things they learned:

  • Fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) was the most prevalent connection mode for all anchor institution types.
  • The maximum connection speed of broadband available to anchor institutions in the ILECs’ service areas averaged around 1 Gig (1 Gig = 1,000 Mbps/1 Gbps), except for public libraries where the average maximum connection speed available was less than 500 Mbps.
  • The average connection speed of broadband purchased by anchor institutions in the responding companies’ ILEC service areas was the highest for K–12 schools (238.7 Mbps) and the lowest for public libraries (43.3 Mbps).
  • For anchor institutions that are not connected via fiber, the average distance of those institutions from fiber facilities was 4.1 miles and the median distance was 0.6 miles. Approximately six in 10 of those institutions (59.4%) are less than a mile away from fiber facilities, while just over one-third (34.4%) are located between one and 20 miles from fiber facilities.
  • More than four in 10 respondents (41.3%) indicated that public libraries in their ILEC service areas had access to a maximum broadband speed of 1 Gig or more. For approximately one-half of the respondents (48.9%), public libraries had maximum broadband speed available ranging from 25.0 Mbps to less than 1 Gig. A very small percentage (2.2%) reported that connected public libraries in their service areas had access to a maximum speed of less than 10.0 Mbps
  • More than half of the responding companies (55.6%) had hospitals and medical clinics in their ILEC service areas with access to a maximum broadband speed of 1 Gig or more, and about one-fifth (22.2%) reported that hospitals and medical clinics in their ILEC service areas had access to a maximum speed greater than/equal to 100 Mbps but less than 1 Gig. The slowest maximum broadband speed available to connected health care providers, as reported by 6.3% of respondents, was greater than/equal to 10.0 Mbps but less than 25.0 Mbps.

NTCA represents nearly 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America

FCC is looking for good telehealth pilot project ideas

It would be great to see some projects spring up in Minnesota. We have some awesome healthcare minds – just imagine what could happen…

FCC SEEKS COMMENTS ON LAUNCHING

TELEHEALTH PILOT PROGRAM

Highlights the Benefits of Broadband to Deliver ‘Connected Care Everywhere’

  —

WASHINGTON, August 2, 2018—The Federal Communications Commission today took steps to explore the creation of an experimental “Connected Care Pilot Program” to support the delivery of advanced telehealth services to low-income Americans.

 

The Commission’s top priority is bridging the digital divide, and nowhere is that more critical than in the area of health care.  Today, whether it’s through remote patient monitoring or mobile health applications accessed via smartphones, tablets, or other devices, advances in broadband-enabled telehealth technologies are allowing patients to receive care wherever they are.  These connected care services can lead to better health outcomes and significant cost savings for patients and health care providers alike.  But many low-income consumers, particularly those living in rural areas, lack access to affordable broadband and might not be able to realize these benefits.

 

Through today’s Notice of Inquiry (NOI), the Commission seeks comment on creating a Universal Service Fund pilot program to promote the use of broadband-enabled telehealth services among low-income families and veterans, with a focus on services delivered directly to patients beyond the doors of brick-and-mortar health care facilities.

 

The NOI seeks comment on:

 

  • The goals of, and statutory authority for, the pilot program.
  • The design of the pilot program, including the budget; the application process and types of telehealth pilot projects that should be funded; eligibility criteria for participating health care providers, broadband service providers, and low-income consumers; the broadband services and other communications services and equipment that should be supported; the amount of support and how it should be disbursed; and the duration of the program.
  • How to measure the effectiveness of pilot projects in achieving the goals of the program.

 

Today’s decision reflects the Commission’s continued commitment to supporting broadband connectivity for those facing barriers to high-quality health care and to maximizing the benefits of telehealth for all Americans through enhanced digital access.

 

Action by the Commission August 2, 2018 by Notice of Inquiry (FCC 18-112).  Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, and Rosenworcel approving and issuing separate statements.

 

WC Docket No. 18-213

 

 

With broadband seniors remain connected to their communities

Here’s a fun reminder of what broadband can really do – make lives better.

The video is from Community O2, an online utility that provides an easy, single sign on, integrated and consistent user interface for a wide range of capabilities which would normally require a user to load and use many individual apps. It is akin to a portal or on-ramp to compile and simply access to favorite online applications.

Possible increase in funds for the Rural Health Care Program

Looks like there may be more funds for the Rural Health Care Program – FCC Chair Ajit Pai is interested in making that happen…

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced today that he has circulated a draft order to his colleagues that would take immediate action to significantly increase funding for the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program.

The program’s current annual funding cap is $400 million. The cap was set in 1997 and was never indexed for inflation. Recently, demand for funding under the program has outpaced the budget, creating uncertainty for patients, health care providers, and communications companies alike.

The Chairman’s order would increase the annual cap to $571 million.

MInnesota is looking for Minnesota E-health Advisory Committee members

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State today released notice of vacancies for various state boards, councils and committees that are accepting applications. Minnesotans are encouraged to apply and serve in demonstration of public service. Here are the positions that I thought might be of interest to readers…

Minnesota E-health Advisory Committee
Vacancies: 1 Seat -Academics and Research
Vacancies: 1 Seat -Community Clinics/Fed Qual. Health Centers
Vacancies: 1 Seat -Experts in Quality Improvement and Clinical Guideline Development
Vacancies: 1 Seat -Health Care Administrator
Vacancies: 2 Seats -Health Plans Representatives
Vacancies: 1 Seat -Health System Chief Information Officer
Vacancies: 1 Seat -Hospital Representatives
Vacancies: 2 Seats -Licensed Health Professionals (Physician/Nurse)
Vacancies: 1 Seat -Local Public Health
Vacancies: 2 Seats -Rotating Professionals – Additional Health Settings (Dentists, Pharmacists, Behavior Health Laboratory, Home Health, Social Services, etc)

Learn more and apply online.