Areas with poor broadband tend to have poorer health

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A new tool from the Federal Communications Commission found a link between population health and levels of broadband access.

The web-based tool, called the Mapping Broadband Health in America tool, seeks to inform data-driven decision making to drive policy efforts regarding broadband and connected health solutions.

Some of its initial findings suggest health of populations is poorer in areas that lack access to broadband. For example, the prevalence of obesity is 25 percent higher and the prevalence of diabetes is 35 percent higher in digitally isolated counties, defined as areas where 60 percent of households don't have access to broadband and more than 60 percent don't have basic internet connections.

Additionally, rural areas are harder hit with a lack of connectivity; close to 60 percent of rural Americans have high rates of chronic disease and low rates of broadband connectivity.

"This is a groundbreaking effort at the nexus of broadband and health," FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said in a statement. "The map makes clear that there are some communities that bear a double burden…They have the lowest connectivity and highest need. Today, we identify challenges and point to sustainable and innovative solutions."

The mapping tool was developed by the FCC's Connect2Health Task Force, established in 2014 to discover ways to accelerate healthcare technology adoption by using broadband and other communication services.

To learn more and to access the mapping tool, click here.

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