Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Broadband for telehealth and telemedicine: lessons for education?


While focus of this blog is primarily education, there are a number of ongoing developments in telehealth and telemedicine that underline the importance of broadband generally and next generation access in particular and which are simply too interesting not to cover here.

In August the FCC published an excellent report, Health Care Broadband in America, with a detailed analysis of health care broadband requirements set out on pages 5-7. For example, exhibit A sets out health data file sizes and the bandwidths required to support particular download times:


Click on the image for a larger version. Some rather startling figures here I think. The report goes on to describe a number of scenarios illustrating different health care use profiles and their associated bandwidth requirements:

I strongly believe that this is exactly the kind of detailed analysis that all end-user sectors need to compile, to make the already compelling arguments about broadband's importance even more so. Clear, factual analyses like these change the dialogue about broadband from the theoretical to the specific, which in turn helps to convince those currently sitting on the fence, as well as refute the claims of doubters who suggest that all next generation broadband will be used for is entertainment and downloading illegal content. See this previous post for further thoughts along these lines, together with the beginnings of a similar analysis of educational broadband usage.

To return to telehealth and telemedicine, I've come across a number of very interesting examples and articles about how broadband is currently being or could in future be used in these areas:
  • Google has teamed up with Spectrum Bridge and the Hocking Valley Community Hospital in Logan, Ohio on the deployment of the first TV white spaces broadband trial network for healthcare providers;
  • A thought-provoking article about how people without broadband may be left behind as more and more health care services move online;
  • Details of the funding currently being committed to telehealth in the US (more on this here and here);
  • An article in the Telegraph about UK telehealth trials;
  • An FCC blog post about the role of policy makers in realising opportunities in this area;
  • Broadband for America's assessment of the telehealth opportunity;
  • A report on the launch of the California Telehealth Network;
  • An overview of the FCC's rural telemedicine plan;
  • A recent Radio 4 Case Notes programme focussed on telemedicine;
  • An analysis of the potential of broadband to reduce health care costs significantly;
  • Finally, an excellent telemedicine blog is available here.
I'll keep adding to this list as I come across further examples and articles of interest, have a look here for more of the same.

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