AMIA to FCC: Broadband will be a social determinant of health

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Broadband access will soon become a 'social determinant of health,' the American Medical Informatics Association wrote in a May 24 letter to Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

AMIA wrote the letter in response to the FCC's April 24 public request for comment on how to accelerate the adoption of broadband-enabled healthcare solutions. The association said access to health information and care via broadband-enabled technologies has the potential to impact an individual's health as much as socioeconomic status, educational background, physical environment and social support networks.

Although broadband-enabled technologies, such as mHealth, can improve access to preventive healthcare, consumer adoption rates vary based on geography and socioeconomic status. To address this issue, AMIA asked the FCC to consider policies that promote access to health applications.

"Policies could allow general citizens, particularly disadvantaged populations, to access and use mobile health applications, personal health records and other health apps and/or participate in population-based research without incurring network data charges," AMIA wrote.

AMIA also suggested FCC collaborate with federal and local agencies to support broadband-enabled healthcare delivery. The association said partnering with government agencies and analyzing their data can help the FCC map broadband availability, enhance IT security and improve care for complex healthcare issues, such as opioid epidemic, substance use disorder and chronic care management.

Click here to view the letter.

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