On July 15, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission introduced a new health care connectivity program that would expand investment in broadband for medically underserved communities across the country. The program would give patients in rural areas access to state-of-the-art diagnostic tools typically available only in the largest and most sophisticated medical centers.
Comments on the proposed rules are due on or before September 8, 2010, and reply comments are due on or before September 23, 2010.
To protect against waste, fraud and abuse in the Rural Health Care Program, the Federal Communications Commission should require participating institutions to meet outcomes-based performance measures to qualify for Universal Service Fund subsidies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services' meaningful use criteria.
The Federal Communications Commission should authorize participation in the Health Care Broadband Funds by long-term care facilities, off-site administrative offices, data centers and other similar locations. Congress should consider providing support for for-profit institutions that serve particularly vulnerable populations.
The Federal Communications Commission should establish a Health Care Broadband Infrastructure Fund to subsidize network deployment to health care delivery locations where existing networks are insufficient.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology should establish common standards and protocols for sharing administrative, research and clinical data, and provide incentives for their use.