Experience in the field serving in underserved areas revealed to our teams lessons, which we had not envisioned about the impacts of limited bandwidth (available information capacity) on providing services to the rural communities. The practical implications of inadequate network connectivity are that it could become an impedance for telehealth. Our observations revealed that many areas still lacked reliable, broadband internet coverage, which means telehealth will not support these areas.
Understanding that telemedicine can bridge the gap for healthcare coverage in some of these areas, I think there needs to be a comprehensive strategy for ensuring these areas have adequate internet support and services. What comprehensive plans are in place to improve the outdated infrastructures that exist for broadband coverage in the rural and underserved areas?
The concerns for payment of services delivered are relevant. Similarly, is having adequate internet coverage and connectivity. Without it, the quality of telemedicine services will degrade and could affect the communities.
There needs to be more emphasis on improving the aged IT infrastructure, which is unable to sustain the increased internet traffic.
Telehealth/telemedicine services are extra demands on the system, and with higher IT demand, traffic across the network could slow down until it affects services. Lack of internet support can mar Telehealth services and telemedicine’s expansion efforts, as the technologies rely on reliable connectivity.
Therefore, I urge that it is time to roll out the plans and begin to execute the projects that will produce the reliable internet coverage for the rural and underserved communities.