FCC Chairman and rural healthcare providers talk digital access

FCC Chairman and rural healthcare providers talk digital access

HERMISTON, Wash. — Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, met with Rep. Greg Walden and healthcare providers from all over the Pacific Northwest to talk about affordable internet access for healthcare providers.

"Technology is advancing but it's costly, and when you're in a rural community we need to find different ways to reach our patients,” said Diane Tschauner from the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic.

As technology rapidly develops so does healthcare.

"It (technology) is going to revolutionize medicine and healthcare," Walden said.

This is making it difficult and costly for rural areas where they don’t have the best internet access.

"Whether you’re in Richland, Oregon or your down in southern Oregon, we're just trying to get the coverage we need for health care and our economy,” Walden said.

The FCC have developed the Rural Healthcare Program to help healthcare providers in rural areas gain affordable access to the internet.

"There is not a single pediatrician in all of Allen County, so now because of a broadband connection between Allen County schools and Scottsville including Vanderbilt they can now do telemedicine,” Pai said. “They developed an app, so parents who had to take time off work then drive to pick up their kids then drive an hour west to Bowling Green now they can monitor everything remotely from the app."

The Rural Healthcare Program was capped at $400 million, but a need for affordable internet access continues, Tschauner said.

Congressman Walden and Chairman Pai are now working to increase the limit.

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