Lack of High-Speed Broadband Access Continues to Impede Telemedicine Deployment in Rural America
TeleQuality’s Tim Koxlien Highlights Health IT Workforce Deficit, Telehealth Framework at Washington Telehealth Briefing
Washington, D.C. (September 14, 2017) ) – “While emerging 21st century telehealth technologies are proven to increase access and lower the cost of healthcare, rural healthcare providers across the country continue to struggle in gaining access to and affording the high-speed, secure and redundant broadband networks needed in order to take advantage of these telehealth technologies,” said Tim Koxlien, Founder and CEO of San-Antonio based TeleQuality Communications and its division Rural Health Telecom℠, to academics, health professionals, federal agencies, regulators and legislators yesterday at the American Telemedicine Association’s Telehealth Capitol Connection briefing in Washington, D.C.
“In an era of decreasing reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid, combined with the needed investment for the support and management of electronic health record - EHR software, rural healthcare providers need assistance in covering the astronomical costs of broadband networks in remote and rural areas where the number of broadband providers and delivery modalities are limited,” Koxlien said. “With only the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program and a few grant opportunities, rural healthcare providers don’t have many financial resource options that help pay for these needed upgrades.”
Koxlien also highlighted how federal legislation pushed the healthcare industry to rapidly transform toward an all-digital infrastructure, consequently creating a severe health IT workforce deficit that affects healthcare providers particularly in rural areas where recruitment resources and incentives are lacking.
“Health workers at these facilities should be solely focused on providing quality care to their patients, not worrying about the ongoing tech updates and security measures needed for managing and protecting patient data,” Koxlien said. “The demand for skilled IT workers in healthcare is higher than ever before. Implementation of telemedicine services rely upon the IT team to provide technical support to handle a range of security, workflow and interoperability issues”
Koxlien recommends that healthcare providers should view the implementation of future telehealth initiatives in phases. Using the “Telehealth Framework” to describe how to bring telemedicine solutions to their communities, he offered guidance on how it can produce better health outcomes. The framework outlines the three critical components needed to achieve a successful telehealth network:
1. Telecommunications services infrastructure
2. IT and medical tools
3. Clinical services.
“As an important first step, healthcare providers should focus on the infrastructure and implementation of broadband in solving many of the business administration problems of their EHR system, practice management software, accounting, email and general internet. Then, they are well positioned to execute a telemedicine strategy they’ve determined is best for their organization,” Koxlien said. “There must be a two-step approach in solving this problem. Address the lack of broadband access and support training programs for our health IT workforce in rural America so all Americans can benefit from the latest life-saving technologies in the healthcare marketplace.”
About TeleQuality Communications, Inc.
TeleQuality Communications Inc. (TQCI) is a leading provider of quality telecommunications and network connectivity products and services to rural healthcare facilities. Since 1999, TQCI and its division, Rural Health Telecom℠, have been designing and supplying organizations with cost-effective, custom network solutions to connect multiple business locations to each other, business partners and the internet. TeleQuality’s technology solutions enable healthcare providers to take advantage of emerging healthcare technologies that increase access and lower the cost of healthcare. For more information, please visit www.telequality.com.