FCC Commish: We need to prioritize health

By Brian Dolan
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"You need a more reliable wireless connection for a CAT scan than you for watching a cat do backflips on Youtube," FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein joked at an event that took place this morning in the Senate. The session, The Wireless Future of Health IT, was jointly organized by the the wireless industry association, CTIA, and the New America Foundation.

Adelstein began his remarks by noting that during his years as a congressional staffer covering health policy, talk of the "healthcare crisis" had already been going on for decades and little to nothing had been done to rectify it.

"Here, with health IT, we can at least take a stab at [the healthcare crisis] and bring down costs," Adelstein said. "... Cutting edge wireless applications will be key to achieving a lot of the administration's goals [for healthcare] and reducing costs."

Adelstein explained that the FCC will help foster the wireless healthcare revolution by accommodating the breadth of new services with additional spectrum for wireless medical devices, which the FCC announced last last week.

"It's thrilling to see the array of possibilities," Adelstein said. The commission has also taken note of the the increase in demand for spectrum and will take an active role in ensuring that these devices can coexist with other radio devices already on the market. While the FCC is tasked with ensuring that kind of interoperability, Adelstein promised the FCC would try to figure those issues out as quickly as possible to make it happen without delaying the important services that wireless health enables.

"I think FCC needs to prioritize these health issues," Adelstein said. He also mentioned a proposal by GE Healthcare (possibly this one?) and hinted that it should see action or discussion by the FCC soon.

President Obama recently nominated Adelstein to head an Agriculture Department agency that will play a major role in high-speed Internet expansion for rural areas. Adelstein will be overseeing more than $2 billion in rural broadband spending, New America Foundation director Michael Calabrese said during his introductory remarks to Adelstein's presentation.