Telehealth: Medical and health care using broadband Internet connections and technologies

Broadband and health information technology (IT) can transform health care, enabling better outcomes and lowering costs. Broadband technologies can facilitate the provision of medical or health care to un-served and underserved populations. Often, these populations live in rural New Mexico and do not have consistent access to care and information. Medical and health e-care can provide start-to-finish services for consistency and timeliness.

Telehealth/E-Care Services

  • Remote diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Monitoring
  • Consultations with specialist
  • Patient and data privacy and protection
  • Independent of physician's office size or location

Telehealth/E-Care Issues and Concerns

  • Rural clinics and small physician offices
    • Broadband infrastructure is expensive
    • Broadband infrastructure is not sufficient to support health IT needs
    • Need resources to help health care providers with their purchase of broadband services
    • Need to expand high-speed broadband to more institutions
  • Health care providers and e-care technologies
    • Improve broadband connectivity
    • Share resources for adopting telehealth technologies
    • Share resources for learning telehealth technologies
  • Electronic health records
    • Health and medical care providers create, store, and access these records
    • Patient and data privacy and protection are important, complex issues
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New Mexico Broadband Working Group

The New Mexico Broadband Working Group is developing components for the Statewide Broadband Strategic Plan that focus on Health, Education, and Economic Development sectors. This group engages health care providers, community representatives, broadband providers, and policy officials to help shape and improve online health technology in New Mexico. Working Group objectives for all the sectors are multi-pronged:

  • Broadband availability and adoption
  • Gaps in broadband services
  • Existing facilities and services
  • Key applications and potential funding sources to improve or enhance community broadband access and use
  • Digital Literacy Resource development
  • Tribal and Municipal broadband planning and implementation guidance
  • Policy changes that can improve access and use
  • Governance to promote broadband adoption, integration, and collaboration

Health Goals

The New Mexico Broadband Working Group Health-sector members have identified two major goals for the strategic plan:

  • Develop secure, effective broadband for telehealth.
  • Connect healthcare providers in a fast and reliable way.

Toward these goals, the Health sector members are developing a database for medical- and health-care infrastructure, services, and applications. Data compilation begins with a survey to describe the state's health care technologies, with questions that cover type of facility, area of service, patient base, specialist services, imaging services, etc. This survey also characterizes telehealth services and identifies availability of, challenges and barriers to using, and needs for telehealth services.

In a high-speed world, many communities in New Mexico risk finding themselves behind the curve. Residents, businesses, and health care providers all can benefit from enhanced broadband availability, higher speeds, and widespread adoption. The NM Broadband Working Group will monitor state, regional, national, and federal programs for Web-based health opportunities, allowing the broadband program and providers to offer resources and recommendations to improve our Internet access to health technologies and services.

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