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Internet2 Commends FCC’s Proposed Changes to the Rural Health Care Program

Posted on Jul 21, 2010 by Doug Howell
Tags: Audio Video Communications Infrastructure, Health & Life Sciences, imported, Internet2 Network, Network Infrastructure, Research & Education Networks

WASHINGTON D.C. – July 21, 2010 - Internet2 applauds the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) action late last week in announcing the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to modify the Rural Health Care Program. Through the RHCP, the FCC seeks to catalyze the formation of a ubiquitous advanced healthcare network that will serve the national interest by improving citizens’ access to first class healthcare services, resources and research.

The FCC's action provides notice that the Commission intends to move aggressively to invest in broadband for rural health in order to reduce the cost of providing health care while improving both the quality and efficiency of the care. Specifically the NPRM:

  • Addresses the scarcity of broadband available to rural health providers and recognizes the need to build facilities. The FCC will create a Health Infrastructure Program which will subsidize 85% of the construction costs of building broadband infrastructure.
  • Recognizes the need for health care providers to have access to networks that support health such as high bandwidth and high reliability Research and Education (R&E) Networks.The FCC proposes to replace the current Internet Access Program with a Health Broadband Program with a goal of providing necessary access to broadband rather than simple access to the Internet and increase the subsidy from 25% to 50% of the costs of access.
  • Recognizes the value of being able to share and collaborate nationally by pre-approving membership in national R&E network organizations like Internet2.
  • Addresses the changing nature of health care, widening the definition of eligible health institutions to include acute care facilities such as Specialized Nursing Facilities and Dialysis Center. It also makes health data and administrative centers eligible.

These changes are expected to increase the number of institutions supported from about 9,800 to 12,000.

“The FCC’s action marks another major milestone in bringing our nation one step closer towards realizing the promise of advanced Internet technology to significantly enhance the quality and availability of healthcare services. We applaud the FCC and Chairman Genachowski for their foresight and vision in this most important arena,” said Dr. Michael McGill, director of Internet2’s health sciences program. “These changes have the potential of broadening the impact of the Rural Health program by addressing the real needs of health institutions across the U.S.”

The Internet2 Network connects close to 70,000 research and education institutions and provides robust capabilities that are uniquely suited for healthcare and health sciences applications that require reliability and consistent performance. Today, Internet2 connects 140 healthcare organizations and medical schools including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the Indian Health Service, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center. These organizations work collaboratively to develop and deploy advanced Internet technologies in support of health sciences. This research has yielded significant results in improving the way students, doctors, and patients interact, including the development of virtual surgery technologies that allow medical students to learn skills from experts all over the world, telemedicine applications that can provide patients in rural areas access to doctors from major medical facilities, and identity management technologies that can provide privacy control for patients’ medical records.

For more information about the FCC pilot program visit:

http://www.internet2.edu/rhcp/ or http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/rural/rhcp.html

About Internet2

Internet2 is an advanced networking consortium led by the research and education community. An exceptional partnership spanning U.S. and international institutions that are leaders in the worlds of research, academia, industry and government, Internet2 is developing breakthrough cyberinfrastructure technologies that support the most exacting applications of today—and spark the most essential innovations of tomorrow. Led by its members and focused on their current and future networking needs since 1996, Internet2 blends its human, IP and optical networks to develop and deploy revolutionary Internet technologies. Activating the same partnerships that produced today’s Internet, our community is forging the Internet of the future. For more information, see http://www.internet2.edu.

Media Contact:

Lauren Rotman
lauren@internet2.edu
202.331.5345