The way Americans receive routine medical care has changed. Over the past several months, we’ve seen streamlined telecommunications policies enacted to enable telehealth visits, the broadened use of wearables to monitor conditions, and new innovative apps for assessment. In early May, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai called telehealth investments and advancements the “silver lining” of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Physicians, companies, and consumers are working together to build a portfolio of foundational digital tools that makes access to healthcare simple and convenient. This is great news when it comes to access to quality connected medical care for all Americans, including people with disabilities, older Americans, and underserved groups.
In Georgia, through the incredible work of Augusta University Health System in Georgia, residents can now download an app on their devices that provides them access to health screenings with medical clinicians via video chat or phone.
In Wisconsin, physicians are overcoming barriers to in-person visits by using remote visits for routine check-ups, medication follow-up, behavioral health, and more. All patients need is a device with a screen, such as a cellphone, and they recommend good lighting.
Connected devices are also playing a large role. One company has invented a new non-contact forehead thermometer that uses infrared (IR) sensors to take measurements, which is connected to an iPad with customized software that displays and reports the measured temperature and a medical-grade wheeled station to provide easy mobility of the system.
These examples and many more demonstrate that with remote monitoring and health consultations going online, increases in speed and coverage will be essential. While the FCC has temporarily granted cellular providers with access to more spectrum to meet current demands, the wireless health care system of our future will require reforming our current policies to help make 5G a reality for all.
We just need the right wireless policies to ensure we can take advantage of all they have to offer.