FCC Commissioner Carr announced that the FCC will be voting at its July 10th meeting to advance a $100 million Connected Care Pilot Program to support telehealth for low-income Americans across the country, including those living in rural areas and veterans. “With advances in telemedicine, health care is no longer limited to the confines of traditional brick and mortar health care facilities,” said Commissioner Carr. “With an Internet connection, patients can now access high-quality care right on their smartphones, tablets, or other devices regardless of where they are located. I think the FCC should support this new trend towards connected care, which is the healthcare equivalent of moving from Blockbuster to Netflix.”
LGBT Tech is greatly encouraged by this program and the potential it has to improve health outcomes for the most vulnerable members of our community, including LGBTQ individuals in rural communities. LGBT Tech has been a longtime champion of expanding access to health services through technology. As a minority group, the LGBTQ community can face uphill battles when looking for a doctor—18 percent of LGBTQ Americans avoid going
to the doctor because they fear discrimination. Naturally, many turn to their phones for the answer, with 81 percent of LGBTQ youth searching for medical related information online compared to only 46 percent of non-LGBTQ youth. Imagine the life-changing benefits that could be experienced if those in need could connect with a medical professional through their phone.
It is encouraging that more than 70 percent of healthcare providers offer telehealth services, but for more than 50 million rural Americans who lack access, including many in the LGBTQ community, telehealth is simply out of reach. With access to this Pilot Program, LGBTQ Americans needn't fear that the doctor they see does not understand their circumstance, or that the same doctor also sees their parents. It also means they can see doctors who have more experience with, or who specialize in, taking care of LGBTQ patients. Everyone should be able to choose their doctor, and this is especially consequential for LGBTQ Americans in rural communities.
We will be monitoring this program closely and will continue our conversations with the FCC about the specifics of this program to ensure inclusion of and awareness by LBGTQ individuals that may benefit but we believe this can be a big step forward in the right direction for the health care of low income and rural LGBTQ individuals.