FCC plans to support telehealth by creating better broadband in rural areas

LAUREL FORK, Va. (WDBJ7) - The Federal Communications Commission visited Carroll County Wednesday to announce its plans to push forward with a $100 million initiative to bring better broadband to rural areas.

The Connected Care Pilot Program is about more than just connectivity, it’s about healthcare.

"We really want to support this new trend in healthcare, it's a effectively a shift from going from a Blockbuster video model to Netflix" FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said.

Carr is talking about telehealth, which is a new way doctors are working to treat patients. Instead of traditional in-person appointments, doctors are connecting with patients over the phone and through video calls.

"If you don't have access, or affordable access to a wireless connection or internet access to your home. You're going to miss out on the healthcare benefits that come from this technology," Carr said.

In Laurel Fork, doctors already have a telehealth program for patients.

And patients like Kathleen Lathem, who have diabetes, are seeing the programs work.

"Go ahead and prick my finger, as soon as it does that it shows me almost instantly what my blood sugar is and goes straight to Dr. Santen," Lathem said.

Lathem said that immediate connection has changed her life.

"I really believe if it hadn’t been for them and the program they got me on, I probably wouldn’t be here," Lathem said.

The FCC will vote on its Connected Care Pilot Program during its next session on July 10.