PAVC Report Finds a Correlation between Telehealth Usage and Broadband Access, Underscoring the Need to Expand Connectivity to Help Achieve Greater Health Equity
In case you missed it, the Partnership to Advance Virtual Care (PAVC), as part of an ongoing #TelehealthTuesday series, highlights how access to broadband internet is vital for accessing telehealth services. The report conducted by PAVC and McDermott+Consulting found American counties with broadband in more than 90 percent of households had an average of 1.75 telehealth encounter days in 2020 — compared with an average of 1.11 telehealth encounter days for counties with less than 80 percent connectivity.
Further, “over 10 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries reside in counties where less than 80 percent of households have broadband access,” meaning millions of people who could benefit from telehealth services live in potentially areas unserved or underserved by broadband service.
Telehealth has become increasingly important for individuals to maintain their health while also having easy access to care in the convenience and safety of their homes. Many patients want to use telehealth but can face challenges due to a lack of broadband connection. Americans’ use of broadband-enabled telehealth solutions grew to 35 percent from 2019 to 2020, and more than 75 percent of Americans say they want to use telehealth in the future.
Without an affordable, reliable broadband connection, too many Americans can be locked out of 21st century opportunities to maintain their health, succeed in school and participate in the increasingly digital workforce.
Policymakers in Washington must capitalize on the unprecedented opportunity and momentum to permanently bridge the digital divide in every American community. Administration officials at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration can help get the greatest number of unserved Americans connected as rapidly as possible by maximizing the positive impact of broadband deployment resources made possible by the recent bipartisan infrastructure law with a technology neutral approach. And lawmakers must build on the positive momentum to advance additional, permanent solutions to ensure people in every American community have access to an affordable, reliable broadband connection.
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