Access to broadband internet should be a key social determinant of health, the American Medical Informatics Association told the Federal Communications Commission.

AMIA said the so-called “digital divide” can have an adverse impact on health, and urged the FCC to count internet access among the social determinants of health when developing future policies and programs.

The informatics group also recommended ways FCC could focus program development supporting broadband-enabled care delivery.

[Also: FCC wants the healthcare industry to stop dragging its heels on broadband]

“FCC has a critical role in ensuring that Americans benefit from the electronic health infrastructure that was initiated with the passage of the HITECH Act and supported by the 21st Century Cures Act,” said AMIA.

The group put forth suggestions for how FCC can better support broadband and its uses in healthcare delivery.

First, the agency should partner with federal, state and local agencies to put broadband-enabled health technologies to work combatting the opioid epidemic.

FCC should also better align programs that can bolster efforts manage chronic conditions, and ensure that these populations have access to affordable broadband and broadband-enabled health tools.

AMIA said the group should examine other sources of administrative data across the government – from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example – to assess the capacity and needs of broadband-enabled healthcare.

FCC should also avail itself of the work done by the National Institutes of Standards & Technology’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, or NSTIC, to address privacy and security concerns about sharing and accessing health data online, said AMIA.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com


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