Skilled Workforce Training, USF Reform Are Keys to 21st Century Health Care in Rural America
TeleQuality CEO Tim Koxlien Provides FCC Recommendations for Enhancing Adoption of Broadband-Enabled Health Care Solutions
WASHINGTON, DC (May 26, 2017) – “The ability to deliver a higher quality of care at a lower cost is coming. Technology is playing an important role in meeting this goal,” said Tim Koxlien, CEO of San Antonio-based TeleQuality Communications, Inc. and its Rural Health Telecom℠ division, in comments submitted to the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday. “As a telecommunications service provider advocating on behalf of the rural healthcare industry, we also recognize our legislators and regulators are challenged in developing solutions for these healthcare providers,” Koxlien added.
“The challenges faced by rural healthcare providers are significant and numerous,” Koxlien said. He explained how they struggle to overcome additional challenges like workforce deficit, lower productivity, and reimbursement issues which their urban counterparts typically do not face.
Koxlien pointed out that technology resources are dependent on human resources. “It’s a jobs issue!” he exclaimed. “The healthcare industry, especially in rural America, is not just struggling with broadband access deficiencies, but also human and skillset resource deficiencies.” He suggested the Commission “[w]ork with the Department of Health and Human Services on solving the training needs of our healthcare IT workforce.” He explained how the time of “...technicians just fixing IT and medical tools” is over and the “healthcare industry now needs to train ‘information technologists’ that can work with the big data needs...of healthcare administrators....”
Affordable access to high speed, reliable broadband service is also a necessity for rural healthcare providers, Koxlien said, explaining that the Universal Service Fund was created based on the principal of providing universal service for all Americans, particularly those in rural and high cost areas. “The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is specific in providing guidance to the Commission for administering this program,” he said. “The goal is to support the high cost of the rural telecommunications services so healthcare providers pay the same rate as their urban counterparts.”
“We recognize contributions to the fund cannot reach beyond sustainable levels,” Koxlien said, but the Commission “is at an inflection point where it must reassess this program's current operation as compared to its original goals.” Koxlien “recommend[s] the Commission look to the other programs in the fund to help shore up the funding needs of the...[Rural Health Care Program], while sustaining the overarching goal of providing affordable, universal service to areas of need.” “This is a difficult problem for the Commission,” Koxlien admitted, because it “may now be forced to make some hard choices to ensure those goals are not left unmet.”
“Our rural healthcare providers are working hard every day to manage difficult problems. Implementation of advanced technologies will enable them to focus more upon the delivery of care and less on the burdens of the day-to-day administration of the business,” Koxlien said.
About TeleQuality Communications, Inc. (TQCI)
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.