While the world is fighting to ensure a future of open and unbiased Internet, the American digital healthcare industry is particularly invested in the fight. The industry has witnessed phenomenal growth and innovation with the help of digital intervention. The accuracy of diagnosis has improved, the nature of treatment and care is better and more cost-effective, and the overall adoption of telemedicine has been successful. A recent article on TechCruch has discussed the role of net neutrality in telemedicine. Let’s explore its importance.
The open nature of Internet, and the free-flow of data enable sharing across multiple platforms. How does this help? To seek treatment via telemedicine, patients need to share their medical history and personal details with their physicians and caregivers online. They also access their personal health records online with the help of mobile devices and get medical consultation through digital conversations. Patients’ ability to access and share their records via Internet is only helped by the Internet’s openness.
While patients’ access is helpful, in addition, healthcare professionals are now securely sharing the clinical information of their patients with other doctors over the Internet. Doctors’ ability to consult with other physicians invites collaboration that brings greater expertise and insight on particularly difficult cases. Studies show that in the near future, over 10% of all doctor visits in the U.S. will be carried out virtually, via Internet video chat sessions. Telemedicine consultations will not only help millions of people by eliminating the need for unnecessary trips to the doctor, but will also benefit homebound patients, veterans, and those patients residing in rural areas with limited access to proper healthcare facilities.
These developments could, however, be thwarted by internet service providers (ISPs) who are trying to make Internet a paid medium. In early 2014, an appellate court passed a rule which says that ISPs could set prices on their services based of the type and amount of traffic they are driving from a website, unless the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decides to label ISPs as “common carriers.” This means if the FCC decides not to classify them as “common carriers,” telemedicine could become more expensive. ISPs could legally charge a premium fee for their services from their customers, which would include both doctors and patients.
If net neutrality is not maintained, it would not only impede the progress made on the telemedicine front, but also crush the vision of making good healthcare available to one and all, without any discrimination. Do you agree? We would love to hear your thoughts on net neutrality as it relates to telemedicine.
About Bob Higginbotham
Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org