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.

Minnesota’s telehealth policies are noted in State Telehealth Laws report

MHealth Intelligence reports…

In its spring 2018 update of the State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies Report, the Center for Connected Health Policy reports that 10 states have amended their telehealth policies since August 2016 to specifically make the patient’s home an originating site for Medicaid-accepted telehealth and telemedicine programs. Those states are Delaware, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

Meanwhile, the report notes that six states have limited the geographic requirement altogether since 2013. And 16 states have added schools to the list of approved originating sites, though some are placing restrictions on those services.

According the CCHP’s sixth annual report, some 160 telehealth-related bills have been introduced during the 2018 legislative session in 44 states, continuing a digital health trend that saw more than 200 pieces of legislation introduced during the 2017 session. But not all of those bills are supportive of new healthcare services.

Minnesota also gets a nod for telehealth licensure…

In terms of telehealth licensure, the report finds that nine states – Alabama, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas – issue specific licenses to use telehealth, while 22 states have joined the Federation of State Medical Boards’ Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which offers an expedited process to applying for licenses to practice in member states. Three states, Tennessee, Montana and Nevada, dropped individual license requirements to join the compact (though Tennessee’s Osteopathic Board is still issuing telehealth licenses).

Healthcare facilities in Pipestone County need broadband for telehealth applications

The Pipestone Star posted about Senator Klobuchar’s recent visit to Pipestone, where broadband came up…

“In a rural setting as a physician you feel like you’re on an island and don’t have the resources available and with our telecommunications system, it’s never like that,” he said.
He said they’re in good shape with broadband at PCMC, but other facilities across the Avera system don’t have the same access which creates barriers. Klobuchar said they included $600 million in the federal budget to address rural broadband issues, money that “trickles through from the states,” she said, and must also reach the agricultural industry.
“Ag, more and more, precision agriculture, is using broadband,” she said.

USDA RUS Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program applications due June 4

The details of the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants were recently released in the Federal Register

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), herein referred to as RUS or the Agency, announces its Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program application window for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The Agency is publishing the amount of funding received in the appropriations act on its website at https://www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/
notices-solicitation-applications-nosas.
Expenses incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant’s risk.
In addition to announcing the application window, RUS announces the minimum and maximum amounts for DLT grants applicable for the fiscal year. The DLT Grant Program regulation can be found at 7 CFR part 1734,
subpart B. This DLT Grant Program regulation replaced the previous DLT Grant Program regulation, 7 CFR part
1703, subpart E, on December 27, 2017.

Great broadband digital inclusion project ideas from Minnesota

The Blandin Foundation works with communities to help them better use better broadband. They’ve been doing it for years and sometimes I get lucky enough to be a part of the projects. Each community works with a community broadband coach (Bill Coleman – another consultant on the Blandin Broadband Team); he helps them figure out their community priorities and where broadband fits in.

Then each community submits broadband proposals (to the community team, then Blandin) for potential funding. These projects are well thought out, vetted and most are well executed. (As my kids say – sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Sometimes the projects are good learning opportunities and those lessons get shared.)

Today I’m pleased to share a matrix of the most recent projects. It’s a great list of ideas you could try in your own community. I suspect the layout of the projects will not be perfect – you can get a nicer, printable version too.)

Also – it’s a gentle reminder that Blandin is looking for future communities – deadline is May 31, 2018. (You can learn a lot more about the program in this archive of a recent webinar on it.)

 Community Project Owner Project Name Project Description
Aitkin County Aitkin County Aitkin County Community Calendar Create a county-wide landing page for events sponsored by Aitkin County Chambers, Schools and other organizations.
Aitkin County Aitkin County Community Conference Centers Provide three small communities with conference/meeting suites, including a mobile computer lab, smart boards, other digital equipment, and Wi-Fi hotspots for use by residents, community education and others.
Aitkin County Aitkin County Wi-Fi Network for Small Cities Provide Wi-Fi for the central hub of Palisade to attract commercial growth, promote connectivity, enhance education, and promote telehealth. This project will serve as a pilot for Wi-Fi networks in other small cities.
Aitkin County Aitkin County Wi-Fi at Berglund Park Provide Wi-Fi at the Palisade city park campground – a main entry point for the Northwoods ATV Trail and important source of economic activity. Park usage is anticipated to increase with Wi-Fi availability.
Aitkin County East Central Regional Library Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspots The East Central Regional Library will obtain 14 mobile hotspots and make them available to patrons at the Aitkin Library and other outreach locations in Aitkin County, providing internet access to county residents who don’t have broadband.
Aitkin County ISD 1 Aitkin Public Schools Wi-Fi Enabled Buses Install Wi-Fi on four school buses so students will be able to work on homework while traveling to and from home, and on longer trips.
Aitkin County Long Lake Conservation Center Wi-Fi and Increased Bandwidth at Long Lake Conservation Center Increase the Internet bandwidth to the LLCC campus, and improve the Wi-Fi network. This will improve working conditions for the staff, increase the effectiveness of programming offered, and make the center a more desirable event venue.
Chisholm Chisholm Community Education Community Training Sessions Training sessions on internet use (social media, security, Facebook) to be offered free of charge to the community. CHS students will be on hand to help class participants as they utilize the training.
Chisholm Chisholm EDA Community Website/Portal Develop a community portal and calendar for community information and events, including marketing, tourism, school events, city and chamber.
Chisholm Chisholm EDA Community Hot Spots Provide Wi-Fi hotspots at the Chisholm Public Library, Lake Street Pocket Park, Balkan Community Center, and HRA Apartment Complex.
Chisholm Chisholm EDA The “Business Perks” Building Develop a technology center with rental space/incubator space available for businesses. Broadband/Internet/website/social media training opportunities for businesses will be offered.
Chisholm Chisholm Public Library Hot Spot Check-Out System Provide fifteen hotspots with mobile data plans for check out at the Chisholm Public Library.
Chisholm ISD 695 Chisholm Public Schools Wi-Fi on Buses Install Wi-Fi on two school buses, allowing students taking longer bus trips to have access to the internet. Bus Wi-Fi may be used for community events as well.
Chisholm Minnesota Discovery Center Minnesota Discovery Center Broadband Connection Upgrade Wi-Fi throughout the Minnesota Discovery Center, allowing for better access during meetings, for events, and for patron/staff use.
Chisholm / Hibbing / Mt. Iron-Buhl Chisholm EDA Central Range Area Feasibility Study Hire a consultant to conduct a feasibility study to better understand options for improving broadband infrastructure and services within the designated area, present the resulting plan and funding options to city councils, townships, school boards and the St. Louis County Board, and assist with grant writing as requested.
Ely City of Ely – Ely EDA Homegrown Ely Website (Elyite.com) Create a website to showcase Ely to prospective residents, businesses, and visitors. The site will include information on the cost of living, the arts, restaurants, churches, business opportunities, infrastructure, etc.
Ely Entrepreneur Fund Digital Marketing for Small Businesses Engage seven small business owners (selected through an application process) in hands-on consulting to build brand awareness and increase revenue by developing and implementing affordable website and social media strategies.
Ely Incredible Ely Ely Technology Center Utilize current space in the downtown business district to provide a shared office space with high-speed Internet for local telecommuters, entrepreneurs, and visitors.
Ely Entrepreneur Fund Ely Small Business Workshop Series Provide three structured workshops on timely topics for small business owners. Local facilitators will share practical tools and ideas on topics such as digital marketing, employee recruitment, and QuickBooks.
Ely City of Ely Ely Area Broadband Feasibility Study Conduct a feasibility study that will provide factual information about market demand, technology alternatives, deployment and maintenance costs, network operation and marketing. It will include installation of fiber within the City of Ely, and extending throughout the entire school district area. Project partners will use the data generated to develop a plan for service delivery.
Ely Incredible Ely Business Development/Broadband Survey Conduct a survey on business development and internet usage data as well as projected broadband usage information, with the goal of bringing broadband to Ely and making it an economic success.
Grizzlies

(Bois Forte, Cook, Orr)

Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians Business Training and Community Education Design and provide community technology education programs at Bois Forte, Orr Center, Cook Library and Community Center, and North Woods High School. Topics will be determined based on community feedback.