The expansion of broadband access and usage in healthcare can greatly increase the quality of service and can enhance patient care through the use of telemedicine, electronic prescriptions, electronic medical records and broader means of communication and sharing patient care responsibilities. It removes geographical barriers and allows people to receive the medical care they need when and where it's needed.

In the face of rising medical costs, increasing gaps in insurance coverage and the cost-cutting efficiencies of telemedicine, the delivery of quality health-related services and information using telecommunications technologies are more valuable than ever. Universal high speed Internet access would help bring the prospect of affordable and quality health care for all Americans closer to reality. Some examples include:

  • Real-time transmission of medical imagery enables the interpretation of MRI, ultrasound, X-rays, and other diagnostic procedures to be performed remotely.
  • Remote monitoring and online consultations significantly reduce patient transfer
  • Allows physicians to connect to distant and remote specialists for real-time guidance in emergency situations
  • Allows for improved sharing of all patient electronic medical records to better coordinate care among multiple providers.

Recommendations for advancing broadband use for Healthcare include:

  • Help ensure health care providers have access to affordable broadband networks (i.e Identifying and recruit hospitals and physician practices to participate in future aggregation projects)
  • Create incentives for adoption by expanding reimbursement for e-care.
  • Remove barriers to e-care by modernizing regulations like device approval, credentialing, privileging and licensing.
  • Drive innovative applications and advanced analytics by ensuring patients have control over their health data and ensuring interoperability of data

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recognized the need to increase broadband access and availability and is developing numerous programs for healthcare facilities to procure the resources they need to build network capacity.  

In order to take full advantage of broadband funding opportunities, it is important for healthcare facilities to know their current broadband capacity and usage and what upload and download speeds is currently available from their providers. 

As part of the State Broadband Initiative funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant funds, New Jersey has been collecting broadband data from the community anchor institutions and updating the New Jersey Broadband Map and National Broadband Map every six months.

The final data collection effort occurred in the summer of 2014. This data will be included on New Jersey's broadband map and will also become the official broadband map that the FCC, policy makers, local planning officials, and other key stakeholders can use to plan and determine eligibility of broadband related funding and grants. 

Healthcare organizations can also use the broadband map to substantiate their opportunity to apply for a grant to upgrade their broadband technology infrastructure and get the technical assistance and support needed to better serve their communities.

The map will be the official tool of the FCC for broadband funding and broadband assessment nationwide.