Improving health care in Tennessee has been a focus for Gov. Bill Lee and the General Assembly. While this is a complex issue, with many factors to consider, one thing is clear — telehealth can play a major role in expanding access to health care.
The Tennessee Broadband Association has spent much of 2019 studying ways to support telehealth. “Our members are building advanced broadband networks into some of Tennessee’s most rural areas,” says Levoy Knowles, executive director of the TNBA. “That infrastructure is a critical first step to enabling telehealth services.”
The association is developing the Tennessee Rural Telehealth Initiative as a way to support and encourage telehealth services in the state. Association members have engaged a health care technology partner to help rural health providers connect with and serve their patients.
Another potential partner with the initiative is CoBank, the national cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America such as agribusinesses, rural utilities and farm credit associations.
Later this month, TNBA plans to meet with staff at the state Department of Economic and Community Development to discuss the program and look for ways ECD could become involved with the program.
“The fiber infrastructure is there, in so many communities our members serve,” says Knowles. “The Rural Telehealth Initiative is the next step toward putting that broadband to work to bring better care to rural Tennesseans.”