Why You Need Lightning-Fast Broadband for Telehealth

 This month I announced a five-city telehealth pilot project to combat high blood pressure in urban and rural communities. One of the things I’ll assessed is the role of broadband in telehealth.

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Why the need for fast broadband for telehealth. “All I need is a smartphone and a cellular hook up, right?” “I’m only sending a few kilobytes of data.” “Why do you need a GoFundMe campaign to study telehealth?”

Why? Perception does not match reality. Telehealth represents a sea-change in healthcare. A lot of that change necessitates fast broadband.

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Telehealth and the Hunt For the Silent Killer

[Broadband Communities Magazine blog post 12/9/19]

140,000 people die from strokes every year! Most of these are caused by hypertension (high blood pressure) and stress. December can be a real killer.

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Barbershops probably aren’t the first place you think to hold the line in this fight against hypertension. But you have to go where the people are. Community broadband (highspeed Internet access) and telehealth can get you there.

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This month starts a five-city, six-week telehealth pilot project barbershops and hair salons in which urban and rural communities will connect USB blood pressure cuffs to telehealth platforms via community networks in a pilot project to attack hypertension, the leading cause of strokes.

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There are several significant benefits for uniting community broadband and telehealth. Telehealth can motivate barbershops’ customers to sign up for broadband, which means new subscriber revenue. For example in one of the pilot cities, 27% Cleveland, Ohio’s 173,025 households don’t have Internet access according to the 2018 American Community Survey. How can telehealth impact community efforts such as Cleveland’s DigitalC, a non-profit ISP with a $20/month, 50 Mbps wireless service that targets underserved neighborhoods?

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The Dollars & Sense of Telehealth for Community Broadband

“Our remote patient monitoring telehealth program has saved the hospital $2.7 million by reducing chronic care patients’ returning to the hospital or needing to go to the ER,” says Lisa Hogan, RN, head of Chronic Care Management Program for Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland.

“Studies of hundreds of our patients six months before and six months after they start this program confirms the financial benefits. We have a few patients as young as 35 year. But many of them seniors with our eldest patient being 100.”

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is one of the more popular telehealth applications. It can enable seniors to add years to their ability to stay in their homes or possibly moving to a nearby senior facility. This will keep a community’s senior ecosystem active and seniors can still maintain a social and economic role within the community.

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Creating the Future Of Community Broadband: A 2019 Economic Development Study

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and started surveying government economic development officials about community broadband’s effect in 2006. Each year the survey has illuminated both the challenges and the benefits of community networks.

This is just a short summary of the complete analysis report. The full report is due mid-July.

What does IEDC the 2019 survey reveal?

Every survey starts with IEDC members highlighting the lay of the land in terms of wireless and wired broadband networks. For the first time, this year’s survey respondents offer feedback on the roles of wireless and co-ops in community broadband.

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New Funding Source for Telehealth and Community-owned Broadband

To meet the heightened demand for telehealth and community-owned broadband, National Community Development Services, (NCDS) Inc. teamed with community broadband expert Craig Settles to raise millions for telehealth and broadband infrastructure.

NCDS has raised over $1.7 Billion for 600 communities in 46 states since the company started economic development fundraising in 1977. NCDS has staff experience and fundraising experience in healthcare.

Mr. Settles is responsible for the needs assessment and pilot testing during community engagements. NCDS manages the fundraising for broadband and telehealth infrastructures. This team also does fundraising for communities that just want the broadband assessment, pilot, and infrastructure.

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Chattanooga Muni Network Trials Telemedicine for Subscribers

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

You can’t have great effective telemedicine without strong Internet connections, the stronger the better. In the other camp, community broadband network owners (cities, co-ops, WISPs, rural ISPs) need creative marketing strategies to ensure their financial sustainability. However, especially among this qualities and co-ops, they may not be used to operating in a competitive environments.

Luckily, there are telemedicine vendors and community network owners stepping up to become trailblazers by establishing marketing partnerships with each other. They are discovering there might be gold in them thar cyber hills.

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When Telehealth and Broadband Collaborate on Policy

I delivered a webinar presentation hosted by Vsee, a telehealth Solutions vendor. The gist of my presentation was, there can only be great telehealth where there is great broadband. Subsequently, effective broadband policy facilitates telehealth and vice versa.

Here are some links to resources, policy and advocacy groups and articles that supplemented my presentation. Feel free to send me additional items that should be included in this list.

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Tennessee, Colorado move to repeal anti-muni network laws

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam stated yesterday he has legislation to remove restrictions that prevent co-ops and municipalities from owning broadband networks. The governor will formally present this legislation to state legislators who will meet, discuss, probably edit, and hopefully pass it into law.

Co-ops would be permitted to build networks, and municipalities could partner with co-ops in moving these projects forward. Municipalities could offer broadband at a wholesale level to cooperatives. “At that point, the cooperative could provide retail broadband service to individual customers who may be outside a municipality.” In addition to allowing electric co-ops to provide telecom services, State Sen. Janice Bowling has introduced legislation to allow municipal power utilities to expand services across Tennessee.

Battle flagGovernor Haslam joins a growing number of governors, legislators, and community leaders working to reduce or eliminate legislative restrictions on community- and public private partnership-owned networks. It has been a long righteous battle and often 21 states had to find work-around for restrictions that legislators imposed.

The various governors and legislators committing publicly to building more broadband infrastructure are turning the tide on efforts to repeal or negate the effects of anti-muni network laws. It is difficult to lead the charge for increasing deployments when you have laws crippling community broadband.

State Senator Lucia Guzman drove a repeal effort in Colorado last year and is doing it again this session. Here’s the formal paperwork. The hearing for the bill is February 13 in the Business, Labor, & Technology Committee. I’m not sure if or when a hearing will be held in the State Assembly. Read More »

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Virginia’s Community Broadband Successes Give Truth To the Incumbents’ Lie.

Like an avenging angel of doom, state legislator Kathy Byron (R-Campbell County) blew into the opening session of the Virginia legislature bearing an incumbent-sanctioned (and probably ghost-written) anti-Muni network bill. As the Roanoke Times states, “In the spirit of naming bills the exact opposite of what they would do, her so-called “Virginia Broadband Deployment Act” would actually make it harder to extend broadband to areas that don’t presently have it — or don’t have enough of it.”

Battle flagIn response, the forces of community good saddle up and ride into battle, a battle that includes debunking the usual array of incumbents’ lies and distortions about muni broadband. Bristol Virginia Utilities’ public-own broadband execution wasn’t pretty, but incumbents try to paint every community network with the same brush, which is deceitful and silly. Consider these four Virginia success stories from over a dozen cities and counties. Read More »

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Fiber & Wireless – Stronger Together for Community Broadband

Google in June stunned some in the broadband world by acquiring wireless provider Webpass and “momentarily” exiting the fiber stage. Hybrid wired/wireless networks became the Next Big Thing – for a month. But what if hybrid infrastructure is the key that unlocks the doors to the next level of community broadband success?

Report coverMy new report, “Fiber & Wireless – Stronger Together for Community Broadband“, makes a business case for hybrid infrastructure by assessing community broadband in a historical context, as well as the capabilities of today’s fiber and wireless. I’ve included past and current projects since they can teach us how to get more value from broadband technologies that communities use.

Wireless in broadband has been deified, vilified, misunderstood, hyped to holy heaven, and in some circles, just plain ignored. To many, fiber can do no wrong, only become faster. Then came gig fiber. No, wait, now there’s gig wireless. We need a reality check!! We’re too fixated on speeds and feeds, bits and bytes. Read More »

Posted in Administration, broadband policy, digital divide, digital inclusion, Economic Development, funding broadband, General analysis, Implementation strategies, Making the business case, Managing costs, Needs analysis, Network business planning, Strategic thinking, Tactical thinking, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
  • Who’s Craig Settles?

    Industry analyst, expert broadband business strategist, runs on-site workshops to help clients create effective broadband plans.

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