FCC’s Broadband Plan: 11 Provisions for Healthcare IT

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski

On Tuesday, the FCC released its National Broadband Plan.  It notes that “the United States is not taking full advantage of the opportunities that health IT provides. It lags other developed countries in health IT adoption among primary health care providers,” and provides eleven recommendations to close the gap between the U.S. and leaders in healthcare IT adoption.

Here are the FCC’s recommendations:

  1. Congress and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) should develop a strategy to document the proven value of e-care technologies and incentivize their meaningful use.  When testing new payment models, HHS should explicitly include e-care applications and evaluate their impact on healthcare costs.  Major pilots of e-care should be designed to adhere to HHS standards for program design and data capture.  Until outcomes-based payment reform is implemented, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should proactively reimburse care providers for e-care technologies under current payment models.
  2. Congress, states and CMS should remove regulatory barriers to the adoption of health IT solutions.
  3. The FCC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA ) should clarify regulatory requirements and the approval process for converged communications and health care devices.
  4. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC ) should establish common standards and protocols for sharing administrative, research and clinical data; and provide incentives for their use.
  5. Congress should provide consumers access to“”and control over“”all their digital health care data in machine-readable formats in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost.
  6. The FCC should replace the existing Internet Access Fund with a Health Care Broadband Access Fund.
  7. The FCC should establish a Health Care Broadband Infrastructure Fund to subsidize network deployment to health care delivery locations where existing networks are insufficient.
  8. The FCC should authorize participation in the Health Care Broadband Funds by long-term care facilities, off-site administrative offices, data centers and other similar locations. Congress should consider providing support for for-profit institutions that serve particularly vulnerable populations.
  9. To protect against waste, fraud and abuse in the Rural Health Care Program, the FCC should require participating institutions to meet outcomes-based performance measures to qualify for Universal Service Fund subsidies, such as HHS's meaningful use criteria.
  10. Congress should consider providing an incremental sum of up to $29 million per year for the Indian Health Service for the purpose of upgrading its broadband service to meet connectivity requirements.
  11. The FCC should periodically publish a Health Care Broadband Status Report.
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