Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Broadband gap between rural and urban healthcare facilities grew significantly from 2010 to 2014

The gap between Internet speeds at rural and metro healthcare facilities grew significantly from 2010 to 2014, says a report from researchers at Oklahoma State University published in The Journal of Rural Health. The study found that in 2010, 14 percent of all metro healthcare facilities "had the fastest category of connections, at least 50 Megabits per second (MBPS)," compared to only 5 percent of non-metro facilities, Brian Whitaker, Denna Wheeler and Chad Landgraf report for the Daily Yonder. In 2014, more than 55 percent of metro facilities had the fastest speeds, compared to only 12 percent in non-metro areas. (OSU graphic)
In 2010, 38 percent of non-metro facilities had "higher rates of the lowest category of speeds (< 3 MBPS)," compared to 33 percent in metro areas, reports the Yonder. From 2010 to 2014 the percentage of metro facilities with the slowest connections decreased from 33 percent to 11 percent, while non-metro facilities decreased from 38 percent to 28 percent. "Similar gaps exist for upload speeds, which are important for technologies like EHRs and HIEs."

The report used data from the National Broadband Map (NBM) "to compare levels of health care facility connectivity across metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties," states the report. "The number of health and medical entries in the Community Anchor Institution data collected as part of the NBM grew from 35,000 to 63,000 between 2010 and 2014. About one-fifth provided information on the speed of their connections in 2014."

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