Telehealth depends on broadband

Over the past year, telehealth has proven to be an invaluable tool for health providers across Kentucky working to ensure that our patients can access vital medical care and other critical health services during the pandemic. Unfortunately, far too many Kentuckians, especially those in rural areas, still do not have the reliable, high-speed internet access necessary for receiving the same essential health services and benefits available to those in cities or suburban communities.

As one of the commonwealth’s largest medical associations, the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians (KAFP) recognizes that rural broadband is a key tool in our efforts to ensure individuals and families have access to the services they need.

Fortunately, an opportunity now exists to remove barriers to access. A new regulatory proposal under active review by the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) would help speed the deployment of rural broadband and break down barriers for internet providers seeking to expand service to unserved Kentuckians. This initiative would streamline the process for attaching new broadband cables to utility poles and would create fairer rules to govern when old utility poles need to be replaced.

A favorable result from the PSC to increase access to utility poles and speed broadband deployment will benefit thousands of rural Kentuckians that KAFP physicians serve. We hope the PSC works quickly to harness the potential positive impact this decision could have on rural broadband throughout Kentucky.

Asha Sharma, MD

President

Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians