Politic365

 
 


Policy

6:16pm April 15, 2013

Healthcare’s Digital Revolution – Why The Future Is So Bright

stethoscope_63197716

By Melanie Campbell, President and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation & Convener, Black Women’ s Roundtable

If someone you know has ever had laser or ultrasound eye surgery, then thank Dr. Patricia Bath.  Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Bath patented the Laserphaco Probe, a laser eye treatment she created after years of research, and, in doing so, she became the first female African-American doctor to patent a medical device.  Advances in digital health are changing our lives for the better and empowering us all to make better informed decisions and live healthier lifestyles.

April is National Minority Health Month.  With the health and quality of life challenges facing the minority community, this is a great opportunity to reflect on the technological and medical advances that are transforming healthcare, offering the promise of more affordable and accessible medical options and the advantages of patient-centered care.

As Dr. Bath’s work shows, medical research never stops.  Every great invention begs the question, “How can this be done better?”  So, imagine Dr. Bath’s laser cataract machine linked with a high-speed broadband Internet connection and controlled by an expert physician in a teaching hospital 400 miles away.

This is an example of telemedicine — high quality medical diagnosis, care and treatment provided over high speed advanced broadband networks.  These high-speed broadband networks are driving innovative healthcare advances and making quality medical care more accessible and affordable to patients.

This month, The Washington Post highlighted the promise of this telemedicine trend, noting, “Although telemedicine has been practiced for decades, a burst of innovation in recent years has greatly improved its quality.”

For many minority communities, which have long suffered from a lack of affordable and accessible healthcare, this promise is breathtaking: Stethoscopes with microphones can allow a physician hundreds of miles away to carefully listen to your child’s lungs and heart and provide a medical assessment.  Cardiologists on videoconference can watch echocardiograms and MRIs and make instant diagnoses, even as they speak with patients and keep them updated during the evaluation.

The same broadband-enabled benefits can also occur from linking high-speed connections with simpler devices such as, home heart, diabetes and blood pressure monitors.  With these innovative broadband applications and services, the elderly or disabled can now remain in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes and may not need nursing home care or long trips to a hospital.  Home-based health systems, linked by high speed broadband to an on-call professional, can monitor medical conditions in real time and can provide alerts to healthcare practitioners within seconds if there’s a problem.

In 20 or 30 years, when we look back on today, we may realize that the most important medical enabler of the last generation is, ironically, high-speed broadband networks.  After all, the doctor monitoring your heart and asking you questions during an online evaluation can’t do that using an old voice-centric telephone line.  The broadband connection has to be robust and dynamic, capable of carrying the data-intensive traffic to and from patients and their doctors or healthcare specialists.

As FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said to a civil rights conference in Memphis, TN, “Access to broadband means access to better education, healthcare, job opportunities, news and information.”  Policies affecting access to America’s communications revolution will have an immense role in the future of affordable healthcare.

That’s why telemedicine, including the potential for more accessible and affordable care, depends on the nationwide build out of high-speed broadband networks.  Outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski summed up the potential for a health care digital revolution when he stated last June at an FCC mHealth Summit that online medical advances can reduce an elderly person’s healthcare costs by 25%.

 Make no mistake – America’s deployment of high-speed broadband networks and infrastructure is one of the most important economic and social issues we face.   It will require tens of billions of dollars in new long-term investment to bring broadband to more Americans, especially to those in underserved areas.  The key to accelerating high speed broadband deployment is establishing a 21st century approach to regulation that encourages investment in 21st century technologies.

If policymakers can create a regulatory framework for broadband that applies the rules equally to all, then companies will have the business certainty to compete and speed the deployment of broadband networks to every corner of the country.   More broadband networks can mean more access to more affordable medical care for all.

Who knows?  Maybe high speed broadband will be the tool that inspires the next Dr. Bath to invent or create the next great medical technology, service or device.  And, with greater broadband access, more Americans will be able to experience the life-changing benefits of these medical advancements and breakthroughs.

 



About the Author

Guest Contributor
Guest Contributor





 
 

 
cell-towers

Reforming the FCC’s “Designated Entity” Rules Will Promote Diversity in Spectrum Ownership

Donna Epps, Verizon’s Vice President for Public Policy and Strategic Alliances, recently published the following post on Verizon’s Policy Blog:The Minority Media & Telecommunications Council recently released a white pa...
by Guest Contributor
0

 
 
sharpton_jackson_morial_121609

Leading Civil Rights Advocates Challenge FCC Rule Comprising Constitutional Freedoms

The nation’s largest civil rights groups recently wrote the Federal Communications Commission protesting a proposed staff recommendation that would require respondents to Commission proceedings to engage in “enhanced disclo...
by Kristal High
0

 
 
3550944196_dcbb6f6df7_o

Was the Netflix-Comcast Deal Inevitable?

Stop me if you’ve been here before; it’s a weeknight, nothing’s on TV, you’ve had a rough day, and it’s time to just relax on the couch.  You turn on Netflix, time to binge watch House of Cards for, oh, say the next ...
by Kristian Ramos
1

 

Advertisement
 
women_technology

A High-Speed Vision For Our Community

By:  Melanie L. Campbell, President & CEO and Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable National Coalition on Black Civic Participation         “Solemn or sassy, women have always had something important t...
by Guest Contributor
0

 
 
apple-vs-samsung-fight

Mobile Devices Shouldn’t Create the Next Digital Divide

Like most things in life when it comes to accessing the Internet price and relevance matter. Add to that the need to communicate on the go, whether calling a family member who is watching your young child, text messaging a frie...
by Kristal High
0

 




One Comment


  1. [...] Healthcare's Digital Revolution – Why The Future Is So Bright If someone you know has ever had laser or ultrasound eye surgery, then thank Dr. Patricia Bath. Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Bath patented the Laserphaco Probe, a laser eye treatment she created after years of research, and, in doing so, she became the … Read more on Politic365 [...]



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>