Broadband access is critical to supporting economic and educational opportunities. However, it can also play an important role in improving overall health. Access to reliable and affordable broadband and telehealth services is a critical component of supporting healthy communities, as these services have the potential to empower patients and expand access to high-quality care—particularly for underserved and rural populations.
Unfortunately, the digital divide in the U.S. is all too real, and there is a great disparity in access to these vital services across our country. Over 21 million Americans, particularly in rural and tribal areas, still lack basic access to broadband. Research shows this lack of access negatively affects both patients’ health and clinicians’ ability to provide the care needed to make their communities healthier. For example, many of these rural areas experience high rates of chronic disease, which could be more effectively controlled with consistent monitoring and early intervention—something that isn’t possible without consistent and stable broadband access.