Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2018

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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TELEMEDICINE 5 6 | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 health care resources in another town or county, such as medical facilities in prisons or jails. Entrepreneur radiologists could easily be added to a health care hub. Dr. Frank Maddux, a co-founder of an ISP that joined a fiber network in Danville, Virginia, believes teleradiology is becoming universally adopted because there are clear protocols for how it is to be used and clear expectations of outcomes. Radiologist Dr. Jim Busch is one of Chattanooga's premier medical business stories. He brought the city's radiologists under one organization, Diagnostic Radiology Consultants. Radiologists connect through the city-owned gigabit network to other team members and the city's hospitals. Dr. Busch wrote software that, together with Chattanooga's network, allows the team to serve more hospitals and patients, grow and expand the business, and create another hook that draws individuals and businesses to town. e network enables the radiologists and medical facilities to save 40 hours per radiologist per year, which represents a sizable dollar savings. Dr. Busch says it is not uncommon for more than 10 radiologists to send multiple large files simultaneously. THE ABCS OF TELEHEALTH IN K–12 e Sevier County School System in Tennessee experienced many school closings because of communicable illnesses. "In some winters, the flu could affect as many as 20 percent of 14,000 students, causing entire schools to shut down," explains Don Best, coordinator of school health for the system. In 2009, the system turned to telemedicine. It uses video conferencing hookups and USB-compatible devices for conducting quick exams and recording vital signs. e technology platform comes from AMD Global Telemedicine. e county also made sure there would be a nurse for every school. During a telemedicine visit, a child can be screened, monitored, examined, diagnosed and treated for conditions that include ear infections, strep throat and obesity. e school and its provider, Cherokee Health, can easily track health and illness trends. In eight years, there have been more than 11,000 telemedicine encounters, and the system has gone five years without a school closure due to influenza. Eighty-four percent of students treated via telehealth remain in school. How many schools in your school district could integrate within your hub, especially if the district receives federal E-Rate funds to support its broadband connections? LIBRARIES: QUIET TELEHEALTH ALLIES Libraries reach out and touch virtually everyone across the economic spectrum – and they often have the fastest broadband connections in their communities. Libraries can team up with health care providers in the hub to offer health and wellness knowledge as well as telehealth applications and services. Like companies that allow health care providers to schedule on- site telehealth services for employees, libraries could partner to offer these services to library patrons. Another possible role for libraries is to lend broadband devices so patrons can access telehealth services. For example, Mobile Beacon, a nonprofit, sells small Wi-Fi transmitters called mobile hotspots to other nonprofit organizations. e hotspots have an average download speed of 8 to 12 Mbps with no data caps, and they deliver internet access to qualifed low- income people. ese hotspots work on the Sprint and T-Mobile LTE networks. Mobile Beacon primarily sells its devices to libraries, which lend them to patrons for any time between several weeks to six or 12 months. Katherine Messier, Mobile Beacon's executive director, says, "Roughly 5 percent of our clients are health care organizations. Although it's a small percentage of our client base, 37 percent of these organizations use our broadband service in direct support of their patients." Jefferson Rural Clinic in Jefferson City, Tennessee, uses the Mobile Beacon units. "We are a free medical clinic with volunteers and one part-time person," says its spokesperson. "We run this clinic for an entire year on about $35,000. If we had to pay for internet access at the going rates, it would be a minimum of $1,500 a year." WHAT'S NEXT? Community leaders, health care stakeholders and the telehealth industry should consider partnering to pursue political and public policy objectives that boost broadband expansion. "Whether you're in a rural or metropolitan community, you can't have telehealth without fast, reliable internet access," says Eric Bacon, president of AMD Global Telemedicine. Telemedicine has proven time and time again to increase access to care, but to deliver on telehealth's promise, adequate bandwidth must be available throughout the continuum of care." v Craig Settles is a community broadband industry analyst, a strategy consultant, and the host of the Gigabit Nation radio talk show. Reach him at craig@cjspeaks. com, and read his full report, "Telehealth & Broadband: In Sickness and in Health" at www. cjspeaks.com. A health care hub can include not only hospitals and clinics but also private doctors' offices, schools, libraries and medical facilities in correctional institutions.

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