AMIA Tells FCC Broadband Access Among Social Determinants of Health

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nation’s Informatics Experts Encouraged by FCC Focus on Broadband-Enabled Health Solutions, Urges Collaboration in Promoting National Health Infrastructure

(BETHESDA, MD) – The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider access to broadband among the social determinants of health when developing future policies and programs.  In response to a notice published by FCC in early May, the nation’s foremost experts in health informatics outlined opportunities to address the digital divide’s impact on health, and they recommended ways FCC could focus program development supporting broadband-enabled healthcare delivery.

Developed by the FCC’s its Connect2HealthFCC Task Force, the April notice sought input on actions to accelerate adoption and accessibility of broadband-enabled health care solutions and advanced technologies.  Given the organization’s primary interest is on how technology can facilitate better outcomes for patients, AMIA focused on the emerging paradigm where broadband access is core to how people grow, live, work, and age.  “AMIA believes that access to broadband is, or soon will be recognized as, a social determinant of health,” the group said in comments.  “FCC has a critical role in ensuring that Americans benefit from the electronic health infrastructure that was initiated with the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, and supported by the 21st Century Cures Act.”

AMIA also offered suggestions on ways FCC can collaborate with other federal partners, and identified select, focus areas for potential program development supporting broadband-enabled healthcare delivery.  Specifically, AMIA recommends FCC:

  • Partner with federal and state/local agencies to leverage broadband-enabled health solutions and technologies against the opioid epidemic;
  • Align programs that can bolster efforts to better target those with chronic conditions, and ensure that these populations have access to affordable broadband and broadband-enabled health technologies;
  • Examine other agency sources of administrative data, such as CMS, ONC and CDC, among others, to assess broadband-enabled health solutions capacity and needs; and
  • Leverage the work done by the National Institutes of Standards & Technology’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, also known as NSTIC, to ameliorate privacy and security concerns in accessing healthcare-related information via public broadband.

For access to AMIA’s full comments, click here.