Most rural communities have a shortage of healthcare providers. Due to this shortage, patients may need to travel anywhere from 1 – 4 hours just to see their doctor. Telemedicine could improve rural communities’ access to healthcare by supplying a greater amount of providers through virtual channels. An issue that is limiting the use of telemedicine in these communities is the lack of internet access. Microsoft has come out with a new article explaining a 5 year plan they have constructed to improve broadband capabilities in rural communities.
Their plan focuses on using the “TV White Spaces Spectrum,” an untapped UHV television band spectrum which would allow wireless signals to travel through buildings and trees as well as over hills. The spectrum would provide internet access to more than 23 million Americans located in rural areas who are currently not connected to internet. Rural healthcare providers are paying up to 3 times more for broadband access than those in urban areas. If broadband access was made less expensive and more accessible these funds could be redirected into patient care, thus improving the quality of care in these communities.
Access to broadband in rural areas could improve the quality of care in many other ways. For example, a large number of patients must come into hospitals or clinics for simple medical issues that could be resolved through video chat, which are commonly much shorter than in person visits. By providing these patients with internet connection and virtual care options, hospitals and clinics would become much less crowded, decreasing wait time and increasing the provider’s ability to work with more patients throughout the day
Brad Smith, the CLO of Microsoft, believes that by using “TV White Spaces Spectrum” 80% of rural communities would see improvement in connection. With such an expansive growth in internet access, the underserved populations would have access to virtual healthcare options.
Clocktree wants to support providers who are looking to expand their practice into the virtual care sector, as well as reach out to underserved populations such as rural communities. If telehealth is something your practice wants to be a part of, Clocktree is the right place for you. If you have any questions about joining the telehealth community do not hesitate to give us a call at 302-990-8935 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.