As the FCC wraps up business for 2012, a long awaited report on telemedicine has been released by the agency.
You may recall the recent story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution I wrote about a few months ago highlighting how telemedicine makes healthcare delivery more efficient and cost effective.
The story is a good illustration of the many benefits broadband can bring to rural healthcare. There are many advantages in using broadband to help patients in rural communities receive a higher quality of healthcare. Specialists in large cities, normally inaccessible to residents of rural communities, are able to speak and "examine" patients using videoconferencing technology. Doctors are able to access real-time diagnostic data regarding a patient, and specialists are able to collaborate on a diagnosis.
Well before the National Broadband Plan was published, the FCC used the Rural Healthcare Pilot Program to advance rural healthcare initiatives and fund telemedicine projects in remote areas of the country.
Rural healthcare and telemedicine isn't the only significant broadband related news coming from the FCC at the end of the year. The availability of broadband now extends to thousands of feet in the air, as the FCC announced the easing of restrictions for airlines to offer in-flight Wifi and access to broadband while flying.