A Renaissance for U.S. health care: broadband as the canvas
I’m in a country this week where 66% of health providers have adopted 9 of 14 critical electronic health applications, according to a study from The Commonwealth Fund. According to the same study, only 26% of U.S. providers have opted into these functions.
As I amble across cobblestoned and craggy streets, looking up to frescoe’d facades on 500 year old palazzi, church domes and the bluest sky ever, the signs of the Italian Renaissance are everywhere in walkable Florence, Italy.
But it’s not all art and architecture, gelato and chianti for me this week. It’s also the techno-reality that I’m living in the 21st century, as I connect to you via wireless using iPhone and a netbook from a roof terrace overlooking the Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the terra cotta roofs of this great Renaissance city.
Having read the FCC’s National Broadband Plan during the flight from Philadelphia to Europe, I’m connecting the dots between the New Communications and the creative work of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Alberti, Galileo, Brunelleschi, and the countless artisans and visionaries who Built This City…and implications for re-imagining the U.S. health system.
It took the Medici’s money and cunning vision to realize the Renaissance.
For the rebirth of U.S. health care’s communications infrastructure, we’ve got the FCC recommendations, and public and private funding to invest in it.
Now, to the vision. Chapter 10 of the FCC broadband report is dedicated to Health Care. In 26 pages, the FCC scopes out the importance of broadband to health, beginning with the observation, “Rising costs would be less concerning if there were results.” While expanding broadband throughout the nation to the remaining 100 million health citizens who don’t have access to it won’t be a panacea for all the nation’s health challenges, broadband access will play a key role in the health infrastructure that’s going to move American health care into the 21st century.
Ultimately, expanding broadband will improve the U.S.’s ability to globally compete.
For health, broadband will enable data from EHRs to move within a health community, and outside of it so we can learn what works in health care and pay for performance and outcomes. Broadband will set the table for remote health consultations, telehealth and mobile health.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that travel makes a man wiser, but less happy. My personal observations of both the transportation and communications infrastructures in Europe inform my sad understanding – which I’ve known through data, but now, through personal experience – that the U.S. is sorely behind developed Europe.
The FCC plan for broadband in health is both a primer for what ails the U.S. health system and a recipe book for what needs to happen to bring American health care up to a global standard. Adopting the recommendations can help move the U.S. into the Health Renaissance the nation needs.
The National Broadband plan is about economic development and expanding access to technology, resources and opportunity to all Americans.