Rural Health Care Providers Urged to Tap FCC’s Universal Service Fund to Meet Mounting Broadband Access Challenges
DALLAS (Oct. 8, 2014) – “Rural healthcare providers (HCP) continue to suffer from limited access to broadband speeds necessary to fulfill their rapidly expanding public and private Internet network needs vital for telehealth communications with patients and HCPs,” Tim Koxlien, founder and CEO of Rural Health Telecom℠, said at yesterday’s COMPTEL PLUS Fall 2014 Convention & EXPO.
With telehealth services estimated to grow tenfold from 2013 to 2018 to $4.5 billion, based on a report by IHS Technology, ensuring that rural health care providers are able to take advantage of these emerging technologies and services is critical, Koxlien said. “Upgrading rural health care provider broadband networks will dramatically enhance their ability to implement new telemedicine technologies and increase access to electronic medical records,” he added. “This will ultimately enable them to better serve patients through streamlined operational efficiencies, expanded patient service access, reduced costs and improved quality of care,” he said.
In his remarks on “Rural Telehealth: A Healthy Business Opportunity” session during a panel discussion Tuesday at COMPTEL PLUS, Koxlien discussed how all health care providers deserve state-of-the-art telehealth services such as video conferencing and remote patient monitoring, regardless of their location.
Koxlien emphasized high equipment installation costs and a workforce deficit of trained IT personnel as two challenges facing telecom accessibility in rural America today. “Many local service providers are reluctant or unwilling to expand into these underserved markets because the costs associated with designing and implementing rural networks lack funding,” Koxlien said.
“The Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund (USF) provides resources to help meet the challenges,” he said. USF’s revolving account of billions of dollars specifically allocates funds to rural area schools, hospitals and clinics. “By funding the rural and urban telecom rate differentials, USF’s significant financial support helps rural health care facilities and their service providers,” he said.
The panel also featured Larry Jonczak, director of information services at Lakes Regional MHMR Center, a Rural Health Telecom℠ customer located in northeast Texas. Lakes Regional provides mental health, disability and recovery services to 15 counties. “After years of waiting to accelerate our network speeds, the USF opportunity made it feasible for us to implement significant network upgrades enabling us to deliver additional services to our individuals in need,” Jonczak said. “With USF and TeleQuality’s services, we no longer need to compromise on our telehealth needs and patient care solely based on our rural service locations.”
About Rural Health Telecom℠ (RHT)
Rural Health Telecom℠, a division of TeleQuality Communications, Inc., is based in San Antonio, Texas. Its rural health care provider clients receive the largest amount of total funding in the continental United States. Founded in 1999, RHT℠ focuses exclusively on supplying quality telecommunications products and services to health care facilities in America. Rural Health Telecom℠ has made Inc. magazine’s 500/5000 list of the fastest growing telecommunications companies three years in a row. For more information please visit www.ruralhealthtelecom.com.
About Lakes Regional MHMR Center
Established in 1999, Lakes Regional MHMR Center is a public provider of mental and behavioral health services to residents of 15 counties in northeast Texas. The center serves children, adults and families by providing community-based treatment, outreach and support programs for mental illness, intellectual disabilities, substance abuse and related disorders. For more information please visit www.lrmhmrc.org.