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Congress Eyes Broadband Access, Telehealth to Tackle Maternal Mortality

By January 24, 2020No Comments

By Eric Wicklund

A group of senators has submitted a bill that proposes to use data mapping to identify rural regions where lack of broadband access and high poor maternal health overlap – and where telehealth could make a difference.

January 08, 2020-A group of lawmakers wants to bring telehealth to bear on the nation’s high maternal mortality rate, with a bill that aims to improve broadband connectivity in rural regions where new and expecting mothers lack access to care.

The Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act (S. 3152), introduced this week by US Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Todd Young (R-IN), would use data mapping to identify regions of the country where high rates of poor maternal health overlap with lack of broadband access. The government would then help to boost broadband resources so that health systems could establish  telehealth programs to improve care.

“In rural areas especially, lack of access to medical services can lead to severe complications and worse outcomes for pregnant women,” Rosen said in a joint press release. “This legislation would work to map out areas with a need for both increased maternal care and access to internet. With this information, we can better target where telemedicine and technology infrastructure improvements can be most effective to improve outcomes for moms, and to save lives.”

“Telehealth technology can help track the health of mothers who don’t have easy access to routine checkups,” Fischer added. “But first, we need to ensure there’s adequate internet connectivity.”

The bill targets a hot-button item that connected health could certainly address.