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FCC Starts Up Wireless Healthcare Task Force

March 5, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has formed a new task force that will aim to accelerate the adoption of wireless healthcare technologies such as telemedicine.

The task force is being called CONNECT2HEALTHFCC. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler named longtime FCC employee and executive, Michele Ellison as Chair of the task force. She will work with private and public stakeholders as well as other members of the FCC, and in particular the Director of Health Care Initiatives and the Chiefs of the Wireline and  Wireless Bureaus and Office of Engineering and Technology, on this initiative.

“The Commission’s top priority must be to make networks work for everyone. Broadband itself is not the goal – it’s what broadband enables. We must leverage all available technologies to ensure that advanced healthcare solutions are readily accessible to all Americans, from rural and remote areas to underserved inner cities. By identifying regulatory barriers and incentives and building stronger partnerships with stakeholders in the areas of tele-health, mobile applications, and telemedicine, we can expedite this vital shift," Wheeler said in a statement.

In other telemedicine news, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) recently requested that the Federal Government lift restrictions on receiving payment for utilizing the technology on Medicare beneficiaries, specifically in regards to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) accountable care organization (ACO) program.

“Due to current restrictions outlined in the telehealth provisions of the Medicare statute, providers cannot take advantage of the full capabilities of telemedicine and telehealth due to unnecessary limitations,” Jonathan Linkous, chief executive officer of ATA, said in a statement. “The current language creates artificial barriers to care including patient location restrictions, communications technology restrictions, and it also defines a narrow list of eligible providers and covered services.”

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