President Barack Obama has approved funding that will provide increased broadband access - and telehealth video conferencing services - to America's rural areas.
Obama has green-lit $795 million for improving broadband services in rural parts of the United States, such as Appalachia, northern Maine and parts of the mountain west. The funding will not only provide for more widespread internet access, it will also be a major boon to health facilities servicing these sparsely-populated parts of the country's landscape. More internet availability means more access to telecare services for patients who live too far away or are too ill to come into the hospital for check-ups.
"Ease of use is allowing practices, hospitals and clinics to manage and deploy telehealth in a way that is reasonable," said Eric Bozich, vice president of product management at Qwest Business Markets. "All those things are coming together to create an environment that is realistic, affordable and practical."
Telehealth uses video conferencing to allow doctors to conduct one-on-one check-ups on patients without the patients ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes.
The funds will also help rural schools reach out to students in new and innovative ways using the internet.
The 66 projects funded by the money will be overseen by the departments of Commerce and Agriculture.