CETF - On a mission to close the Digital Divide - Page 21

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“ Having access to broadband and a smartphone must be part of the human infrastructure and is essential for healthcare .”
Dr . Peter Yellowlees Chief Wellness Officer , UC Davis Health

If you ask most medical providers about the effect of COVID-19 on the healthcare system , you ’ ll probably hear the same phrase come up again and again : it was an “ inflection point .” Seemingly overnight , providers had to figure out a way to care for their patients in the safest way possible while a pandemic raged through the population and posed a particular threat to healthcare professionals and residents and workers in elderly care facilities . The best way to do that ? Telehealth , or the use of phones and computing devices to connect patients and providers anywhere at any time , allowing for better access and social distancing .

“ The American Medical Association reports that in the first months of COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders , the increase in use of telehealth was several thousand percent ,” says Barb Johnston Yellowlees , chair of the California Emerging Technology Fund Telehealth Committee . “ But telehealth is only as good as your broadband connection and your device , and if either is lacking , your access to virtual healthcare is impaired .”
CETF is determined to change this . This spring , they released the 2021 Statewide Survey on Broadband Adoption in partnership with the University of Southern California to assess California ’ s progress , including access to telehealth .
CETF also co-sponsored two Fact- Finding Listening Conferences ( with the Partners in Care Foundation , Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California and California Primary Care Association ) in 2020 to identify the gaps and barriers to optimizing telehealth and inform an action plan to advance telehealth policy and funding in California .
As described in the Fact-Finding Final Report and Action Plan , telehealth makes efficient use of a provider ’ s time . For patients , it helps to remove barriers such as transportation , needed childcare , time off from work and time spent in waiting rooms . Telehealth also eliminates vehicle trips . Half of California residents have used telehealth during the pandemic , according to the 2021 Statewide Survey , and 60 % of those say they expect to continue using telehealth post-pandemic .
“ Having access to broadband and a smartphone must be part of the human infrastructure and is essential for healthcare ,” says Dr . Peter Yellowlees , chief wellness officer for UC Davis Health and past president of the American Telemedicine Association . “ Data indicates that consumers prefer to be seen virtually and in their homes . Therefore , providers should see patients where they want to be seen ...( Telehealth ) has the potential to revolutionize the way providers deliver care via synchronous , asynchronous and
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