Dec 3, 2020 - Health

FCC commissioner: Access to broadband essential to boosting telehealth

Axios' Dan Primack (L) and FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks (R). Photo courtesy of Axios Events
Axios' Dan Primack (left) and FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks. Photo: Axios

Access to broadband is essential to boost telehealth, which has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, Federal Communications commissioner Geoffrey Starks said on Thursday at an Axios virtual event on the future of broadband connectivity.

Why it matters: "Access to telemedicine and telehealth via affordable, reliable broadband is going to be extremely important to making sure that folks can safely manage their health from home," Starks said.

  • "It's especially necessary, again, for our elderly members who may be on a fixed income, but also need to be able to stay safe instead of trying to get through public transportation or further risking themselves going to a physician's office."

By the numbers: The demand for telehealth services' year-over-year growth reached a five-year high of 287% the week of May 11 and has since averaged weekly year-over-year growth of over 150%, per Axios' Bryan Walsh.

  • But according to Starks, more than 77 million Americans lack adequate broadband in their home.
  • Starks added that 1 in 3 Black adults and more than 1 in 3 Latino adults don't have home broadband connections.

Watch the event.

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