Minnesota gets a nod for leading the higher broadband charge!

Journalist Resource recently took a look at rural broadband in a coronavirus world…

In this time of pandemic caused by a new coronavirus, systems that many rely on daily, like health care and education, are unraveling. Americans who can telework are avoiding the office, bringing the inequality of telework into high relief. Eventually, there may be silver linings. For now, the pandemic continues to leave average Americans increasingly exposed to a variety of sudden challenges.

“Everything is connected,” says Gilmartin. “It’s like the thread of a sweater.”

It’s a popular topic, for many good reasons but I mostly add the article because they give Minnesota a nod…

Minnesota is one state leading the charge for higher rural broadband speeds, Gallardo says. By 2026, the state is aiming for all homes and businesses there to have access to at least one broadband provider that offers download speeds of at least 100 mbps — four times faster than the federal baseline. North Carolina also has a plan for improving broadband availability and usage there. Wisconsin wants everyone there to have access to internet service that meets the federal speed standard by 2025.

I might add that while aiming for better broadband is an essential first step, it is just the first step. We also have state funding to support deployment – and to keep in the leadership role, we need to encourage more state funding and remember to update the speed goals when appropriate!

Dancing Heart Live – online morning stretch Thursday Mornings with Kairos Live

One of the advantage of working remotely is that you should be able to take a little break when you want. I have a fun excuse to stand up and get used to online living on Thursday mornings…

Dancing Heart Live™  
Join us from your living room for an interactive dance party for  all ages and abilities!
Thursday Mornings   10:15 am – 11:00 am  on the Kairos Alive! Digital Dancefloor™ via Zoom
Dates: April 2, 9 16, 23, 30  May 7, 14, 21, 28
To join us: ​ https://zoom.us/j/710280870  maria@kairosalive.org

Kairos works in different communities and with assisted living facilities. I’m going to say if you have small children at home and/or elderly parents or grandparents at another location – this might be a fun way to meet up online! If you’ve been looking for a reason to get elderly relatives online – the lure of seeing grandkids can be pretty motivating!! And it does get you moving.

Also here are some instructions for using Zoom; they are perfect for anyone with limited digital experience. Or if when you try to access it you run into issues, like it doesn’t just start up.

How MN’s Paul Bunyan made broadband possible for many students

Love to share this remark from the letter to the editor from Kenneth Perreault, District Technology Coordinator for Red Lake Schools in the Bemidji Pioneer

When we found out that our students may not be back anytime soon, I gave Paul Bunyan a call and asked if they could help in any way. Within minutes we came up with a plan in conjunction with the tribe to place wireless outside of all our major buildings including some community centers. This allows for people who need internet to drive into our parking lots, connect with one click and they have internet access they may not have had before.

This was all accomplished in record speed; for a company going through this crisis just like the rest of us, they have stepped up in a major way to help support our communities. To Paul Bunyan we send you our sincerest thanks. You are truly a company made of community and serving the community

Telehealth at the Mayo Clinic – today and moving forward

KARE 11 TV reports on Mayo Clinic’s use of telehealth since the threat of coronavirus…

Mayo Clinic is providing care to patients through telehealth that includes video appointments, remote patient monitoring, interactive care plans, primary care concerns, specialty visits and COVID-related visits.

“All of the patients that I’ve taken care of—and I’m a cardiologist—I’ve taken care of by video for the past three weeks and that’s increasing more and more,” said Dr. Steve Ommen, medical director for Mayo Clinic’s Center for Connected Care.

Even more exciting, to me, than the increase in telehealth use now is the implication that we’ve set a new bar for telehealth with changes in regulations…

The government has temporarily relaxed some regulations that were barriers to delivering telehealth. That includes allowing doctors to practice telemedicine across state lines.

“In order to deliver care to a patient, I really was required to be licensed in the state where they were during the interaction,” Dr. Ommen explained.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has also expanded coverage for telehealth services. Prior to this waiver, Medicare could only pay for telehealth on a limited basis that included patients who lived in designated rural areas.

And the patient expectations…

He added, “The patients are going to appreciate how convenient it is to get care this way and keep them safe. And third, the care teams are all going to be ramped up to do it now in a way that’s going to be just a standard part of their practice.”

According to Dr. Ommen, those three things will put telehealth in a stronger position than it was in just a couple months ago.

Coronavirus is excuse for dental office to move to telehealth

Twin Cities Business interviewed the Minnesota Head & Neck Pain Clinic in Plymouth about their coronavirus-inspired move to telehealth and the door it opens to future telehealth options…

We’re now able to see new patient consultations as well as provide care for our existing patients. I’m hopeful that the government will recognize that telemedicine options improved better access of care. With the deregulation and commitment of insurers to cover the cost of telehealth visits this has the potential to continue an outreach clinic for those in rural or outstate areas or for those that don’t have easy access to care. The nature of what we offer for orofacial pain, TMJ disorders and headaches is unique. I hope that once the acute public health issues that we’re experiencing with the Covid-19 virus subside, we’ll be able to continue to offer these services and improve access to care.

Washburn Center for Children Adopting telehealth with help from Medica

Medica reports

Medica today announced it would allocate $1 million in emergency donations among 18 Minnesota non-profit organizations that play important roles in addressing health needs of the most vulnerable people in communities statewide, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Funding is being made available through the Medica Foundation.

At least one donation went to telehealth…

Washburn Center for Children [in Minneapolis] will receive $100,000 to advance their telehealth capabilities and meet the urgent mental health needs for children with social, emotional and behavioral problems, and their families.

“Washburn is committed to ensuring access to mental health care for children and families during this unparalleled time,” said Tom Steinmetz, CEO, Washburn Center for Children. “We are grateful for Medica’s emergency response support that will equip our 165 therapists with telehealth tools to connect with families and deliver critical therapies. We are singularly focused on the well-being of children and families we serve and Medica is vital in helping us adapt quickly to meet those needs.”

RiverView Health In Crookston implements telehealth (Polk County)

Crookston Times reports…

During this time of uncertainty, RiverView Health is taking every precaution to protect its patients and staff regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth, or video visits, are now offered, when applicable, for patients with chronic conditions and other needs who are able to receive care without visiting a clinic.

Most RiverView providers are now available via telehealth for the following appointments:

  • Follow-ups/rechecks
  • Medication check-in/refills
  • Test results
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Establish care, with limitations of a physical exam

If you already have an appointment for one of the reasons above, you will receive a call from a patient access representative to determine if a telehealth visit is feasible. Most insurance providers have extended coverage to telehealth visits, including Medicare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota, United Healthcare/UMR, and Humana. Your patient access representative can help you determine if your insurance will cover a telehealth visit.