The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Connect2Health Task Force released a Public Notice on April 24, 2017, requesting comment on a wide range of topics relating to the encouragement of broadband-enabled health care solutions.
In particular, the FCC teed up questions about how it can use its statutory authority to:
- Promote effective policy and regulatory solutions that encourage broadband adoption and promote health IT;
- Identify regulatory barriers (and incentives) to the deployment of radio frequency (RF)-enabled advanced health care technologies and devices;
- Strengthen the nation's telehealth infrastructure through the FCC's Rural Health Care Program and other initiatives;
- Raise consumer awareness about the value proposition of broadband in the health care sector and its potential for addressing health care disparities;
- Enable the development of broadband-enabled health technologies that are designed to be fully accessible to people with disabilities;
- Highlight effective telehealth projects, broadband-enabled health technologies, and mHealth applications across the country and abroad to identify lessons learned, best practices, and regulatory challenges; and
- Engage a diverse array of traditional and non-traditional stakeholders to identify emerging issues and opportunities in the broadband health space.
The FCC regulates broadband telecommunications service providers, equipment manufacturers of RF-enabled medical devices, and provides up to $400 million annually in subsidies to encourage the deployment of broadband health services to rural healthcare providers through its Rural Health Care Program.
Additionally, the FCC just re-launched its Experimental Licensing System, through which universities, research labs, health care facilities and medical device companies can obtain temporary authorizations to test new technologies that use spectrum.
Initial comments are due on May 24, 2017, with reply comments due on June 8, 2017.