Telemedicine Threatened by Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules
Telemedicine is being threatened with the expected repeal of internet net neutrality rules.
Net neutrality rules make it illegal for high-speed Internet service providers to reduce speeds or block specific content. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to get rid of the Obama-era rules, which Chairman Ajit Pai claims, discourages innovation.
Telemedicine allows doctors to remotely diagnose and prescribe treatments. With high-speed Internet healthcare apps and services, patients receive reliable and fast connectivity for health monitoring, consultation, and service delivery. The repeal of net neutrality would unleash innovation and investment in networks and provide better connectivity to rural small hospitals. Moreover, costs would decrease.
Telemedicine: Net Neutrality Repeal A Negative
The repeal of net neutrality rules could threaten low-cost service for telemedicine by raising internet information costs in rural located facilities. Rural areas typically lack the sophisticated internet infrastructure of the big cities. Indeed, telemedicine has been hailed as a valuable solution to limited healthcare access in rural areas.
Therefore, prohibitively high Internet costs could exacerbate health disparities between high and low-income people and between people in urban versus rural areas.
Rural and community health centers may struggle because they usually lack the resources to pay for fast internet connections in a tiered system. Speedy diagnosis and treatment can often be the difference between life, chronic impairment, or death.
Healthcare organizations rely on the web for telemedicine as well as for government mandated data storage in the form of electronic health records (EHR’s).
Thus, repeal of net neutrality may result in even higher costs to healthcare IT organizations, that are already paying vast amounts to store medical data online.
The FCC is expected to vote on net neutrality repeal within the coming month. Stay tuned.