Public, Private Efforts To Boost Health IT Connectivity
First, Computerworld reports, "Verizon announced on Wednesday a new cloud-based service offering for healthcare providers that will handle the sharing of patient information electronically between disparate platforms. The new service, called the Verizon Health Information Exchange, consolidates clinical patient data from various providers and translates it into a standardized format that can then be accessed via a secure Web portal" (Mearian, 7/14).
Second, The Washington Post reports, "The Federal Communications Commission will announce at its open meeting Thursday a plan to create a $400 million program that would bring broadband connections to rural healthcare providers. The effort, supported by money drawn from a $8 billion annual phone subsidy known as the Universal Service Fund, has been a pilot project at the FCC since 2007. But it has attracted little interest, mainly because of restrictions on who can apply for the funds and what the money can be used for, according to the FCC" (Kang, 7/15).
"The agency will launch a rule-making process on Thursday to create the new fund, building off a pilot program it started three years ago that has helped hospitals and groups of healthcare providers pay for network upgrades but which has been severely underused," The Hill adds. "For thousands of providers, bandwidth remains a major barrier to adopting the most advanced health technologies. The FCC's health team pinpointed 3,600 facilities where connectivity issues had stymied the use of advanced health technologies, according to a count released in March" (Jerome, 7/14).
Separately, the federal agency that runs Medicare and the American Medical Association are pushing for public and private insurers to pay for telemedicine and other types of "virtual visits," Medscape reports (Macios, 7/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.