Often, people underestimate the broadband access problem, says. Peter Fleischut, MD, chief transformation officer at NewYork Presbyterian, New York City.
“Technology is not value neutral,” Dr. Fleischut says. “It’s critical as each new technology emerges to make sure that it doesn’t worsen disparities. That’s a problem with telemedicine if a segment of the population can’t access it because there isn’t broadband.”
And it’s not just rural counties that have this problem, Dr. Fleischut says. Some older buildings in urban areas present challenges, too, he adds.
Broadband access isn’t the only issue.
“There are always challenges to any new technology,” Dr. Fleischut says. “For example, there are regulatory issues involved when you’re crossing state lines. If you see a provider and then cross a state line going home, you can’t have a video visit if the provider isn’t also licensed in your state even though you can have a phone call with that provider. And that’s true even if you’re doing something as simple as a follow-up visit.”
- Drake C, Zhang Y, Chaiyachati KH, et al. The limitations of poor broadband internet access for telemedicine use in rural America: An observational study. Ann Intern Med. 2019 May 21. doi: 10.7326/M19-0283. [Epub ahead of print]