Telecommunications health and local broadband, in the field of disease and health

Telecommunications health and local broadband are symbiotic technologies.

Much more than just video chat, telehealth uses intranets and internet networks to observe, diagnose, initiate or otherwise medically intervene, administer, monitor, record and / or report on the continuum of care that people receive when they are ill, injured or want to stay. well. We can save as much money and time going to healthcare if we take full advantage of telecommuting and telemedicine tools. Public health in particular can take advantage of telecom health to great advantage.

Community broadband, meanwhile, refers to networks owned by cities, towns and counties, local telephone and electricity companies, wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) and other local ISPs and public-private partnerships, often initiated by municipalities or counties. .

But large companies often have high prices, suboptimal service and weak infrastructure, so communities at the national level build their own. These networks serve the people they serve.

Telecommunications health combined with broadband in the local community has enormous economic and quality of life benefits. These technologies also pave the way for digital equality and health equality among underserved communities in cities, towns and counties.

However, do not forget that it is quite difficult to have telesealth without broadband.

Strategically speaking

Let us divide telecommunications health into three categories and consider as an example public libraries that decide to offer telecommunications health in some of their departments.

Real-time telecommunications health refers to activities that take place “right here and now”, often involving doctors or health professionals. Perhaps the larger library departments can designate reading rooms or purchase telecommunications kiosks so patrons can schedule an appointment or look in to have private, secure telecommunications sessions with their doctor in real time.

Store-and-forward telehealth collects medical data, digital images, etc. and sends them electronically to another site for later evaluation. Let’s say a telecommunications company can schedule a time when they come to your house for lab work, which they collect and take to the lab on Tuesday. On Thursday, you go to the library’s telesealth kiosk for doctor visits because the doctor will review large files from the laboratory with you and your internet connection at home is too slow.

“Passive” telecommunications health refers to the storage and access to digital knowledge bases, health and wellness web content, and interactive software applications that help us understand, prevent, treat, or recover from threats to our physical and mental health. After your telesealth interview, ask the librarian for help sorting out their medical video clips in connection with your diagnosis.

Libraries and their healthcare partners must ensure that they have sufficient bandwidth for multiple audio and video streams. It requires enterprise-level Internet access, not consumer-quality bandwidth. Whether it is wireless or fiber, the bandwidth must be synchronous, meaning equal download and upload speeds and have sufficient capacity to facilitate multiple video streams.

A framework for tactical action

Here are six tactical ways to use telecommunications health to exploit or maximize public health in a community along with associated broadband use.

Re-invent the doctor’s visit for a variety of health care practices, including observation, screening, data collection, data exchange, and medical advice

People in public health and other areas of healthcare should take the view that wherever there is seriously fast broadband and at least 10 feet x 10 feet of free space, it is a potential place to develop a patient / physician relationship. Take, for example, a hairdresser or hair salon, a laptop, decent broadband, a healthcare partner and money – and there is a potential telesealth site.

To marry telehealth chronic health care and home care so that the constant appointments and treatments can be made less intrusive at home or possibly an office at work

In July, the White House recruited 1,000 barbershops and hair salons to be COVID vaccination centers. Consider designating some of them as Telehealth Ground Zero by 1) funding a wired wireless broadband expansion on top of several nearby structures and 2) distributing wireless routers to homes in the immediate area. Get a community WISP to sell and support a permanent broadband solution, and hire stores and salons to introduce customers to telesealth. Perhaps health departments can monitor chronic health care.

Improving emergency preparedness to save more lives

Build self-propelled high-speed internet stations along rural areas for hospitals that emergency vehicles can connect to if patients’ condition worsens, or designate schools, libraries and other buildings as telesealth roadside stations for vehicles. Use these stations in natural disasters when people could be isolated from any medical aid for days or weeks.

4. Expanding the effectiveness of the delivery of mental health care

About 20,000 people per. 100,000 experience some mental illness, but there are only 268 mental health providers for every 100,000 people in the United States, according to the United Health Foundation. Telehealth can increase the efficiency of providers and reduce downtime. Carly McCord, director of clinical services at the Texas A&M Telehealth Counseling Clinic, explained: “We’re talking about intensive therapy, like treating PTSD, that you can not do with bad internet connections. When your patient reveals a trauma and your connection. Error, or you miss a word and have to say, ‘Sorry. Can you repeat that?’, it’s a huge problem. “

5. Improving elderly care and promoting aging in place

Several aspects of telecommunications health are aimed at seniors, but the main purpose is to ensure that seniors continue to receive health care and live safely in their homes for longer. A key broadband element in this telehealth equation is smart home technologies that include wireless sensors. Some sensors can now determine if a person was sitting up in bed or falling on the floor, they eat regularly and they take their medication on time.

6. Re-understanding what hospital treatment can be, one of the few good things one has learned from the pandemic

Think differently about hospitals. “Converting dormitory facilities to handle remote monitoring of patients recovering from surgical procedures is one of the easiest to set up and has the least cost,” said Peter Caplan, chief consultant for New York-based eHealth Systems & Solutions. .

Last year, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reused 2,000 rooms in five hotels to house asymptomatic people who required isolation due to COVID-19 to ease the burden on hospitals and financially strengthen hotels whose occupancy has taken a big hit.

After the dream comes work

These telesealth strategies and tactics can provide some structured ideas on how to implement telesealth and broadband together. But as they say, the devil is in the details. There is a lot of legwork and needs analysis required, as well as a lot of local stakeholder planning to make these visions a reality. Is your community prepared to get the job done?

Earlier this month, I was a guest expert on “Ask Me Anything!” where I answered questions about stronger broadband and telecommunications health proposals for federal grants. Read the archive with questions and answers here.

Saved from a stroke of telehealth, Craig Settles pays for it further by uniting community broadband teams and health stakeholders through telehealth broadband integration initiatives. Follow him on Twitter @ cjsettles101.

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