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Rural Health Information Hub

Connectivity Considerations for Telehealth Programs

Access to high-speed broadband internet continues to be a barrier for many rural telehealth programs. Lack of connectivity can hinder the implementation and expansion of telehealth programs that require live-video connections between patients and providers. Dropped calls and delays in video feeds can interrupt care delivery and lead to patient dissatisfaction with telehealth.

Some rural telehealth programs are adapting to limited connectivity by focusing on services that use cellular networks or text messaging services to reach patients. For example, to address limited access to broadband in rural Oregon, the Direct to Patient Tele-Behavioral Health Services program offers a text-based option for behavioral therapies. Patients without internet access may find it easier to connect with providers through text messages.

Other rural programs are building partnerships to implement long-term solutions to connectivity in their communities. See Rural Health Funding & Opportunities by Topic: Broadband in the Online Library for programs to improve broadband connection in rural communities, including:

Resources to Learn More

Technical Issues - Connectivity and Security
Discusses efforts to improve telehealth access in rural Alaska with a focus on connectivity and security.
Author(s): Spargo, G.
Organization(s): Telehealth Technology Assessment Center, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Date: 2015