I've always been a big supporter for using innovation and advances in technology to reform our health care system, especially for those living in remote areas where there are little, or no, medical resources.
It also takes changing some of the basic fundamentals for delivering these services. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission redefined its definition of Universal Service, moving it from a time-honored voice-centric fund for basic phone service to one focused on the broadband needs of consumers and businesses in the 21st Century. The transformation is really good news for people living and working in rural areas, where a majority of the government funding will be allocated to deliver broadband services.
While everyone might not agree with all the changes to the Universal Service Fund (USF), the FCC believes it should help spread the availability of broadband services to the more than 18 million American households in rural areas that have no access to high-speed Internet service and that aren't likely to get it soon because it costs too much to build the service out to their homes.
One reason rural areas were left out of the "broadband build-out" was the cost associated with providing the service. The new USF intends to provide subsidies for areas where there is no business case for companies to provide service on their own and would fund wireless broadband access in remote or rugged areas.
However you look at it, this is a positive step by government, and companies in the public/private sector, in supporting the delivery of broadband to rural communities. And, when broadband services are available, offering mHealth services may not be far behind. The delivery of broadband, as well as mHealth services, could also lead to job growth, as people working in the health care sector consider extending medical services to outlying areas currently underserved by their practice or hospital.
More detail on the FCC's overhaul of the USF will be forthcoming shortly. Hopefully it won't take long to update and enact the new USF, have companies use the funds to build out broadband, and turn the promises and benefits of mHealth into reality for rural communities across the country.