The FCC is asking the healthcare industry to comment and provide data on ways to accelerate adoption and accessibility of broadband-enabled healthcare, especially in rural and underserved areas.

In a public notice posted Monday, officials said the information will be used to identify methods the FCC can take to promote broadband expansion.

The agency is seeking comment and data on the regulatory, policy, technical and infrastructure issues with broadband and how it’s affecting the healthcare industry and outcomes. FCC will use this information to make recommendations for improvements.

“By some estimates, broadband-enabled health information technology can help to improve the quality of healthcare and significantly lower health care costs by hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades,” officials wrote. “However, the United States remains behind some advanced countries in the adoption of such technology.”

FCC officials believe it plays an important role in improving the quality of healthcare and is currently evaluating broadband infrastructure to better understand the role it can plan in healthcare delivery.

The FCC’s Connect2Health Task Force is leading the project, which is tasked with charting the future of broadband and its role in healthcare. Connect2Health was established in 2014, but FCC has recently put the task force back to work to identify the areas that are lacking access to healthcare.

Specifically, the agency wants the healthcare industry to give information on how to promote effective policy and regulations; identify barriers and incentives to deploying RF-enabled healthcare tools; strengthen telehealth infrastructure; raise consumer awareness; enable development of broadband-enabled health technologies; highlight successful telehealth projects; and engage stakeholders.

“The healthcare provider shortfall is likely to disproportionately affect rural and remote areas which are already medically-underserved,” officials said. “While broadband is not a complete answer, there are a growing number of broadband-enabled solutions that can play an important role in improving population health.”

The agency is accepting comments through May 24, with reply comments by June 8.

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