FCC committee: mHealth Task Force must meet needs of underserved groups

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The Federal Communications Commission's Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) has unanimously adopted a motion for the Mobile Health Task Force to take steps to ensure that the interests of underserved populations, including people with disabilities and low-income individuals, are addressed in the task force's evaluation and resulting recommendations.

The mHealth Task Force was convened this year by the FCC to research the barriers to rapid adoption of mHealth technologies, and to develop recommendations to government and industry to overcome these barriers. The FCC plans to act on recommendations from the mHealth Task Force report, including that the FCC collaborate with federal agencies and the private sector to meet a goal of mHealth technology being a routine medical best practice within five years.

However, as the CAC pointed out in its adopted statement, "the needs of people with disabilities and other underserved groups are not specifically addressed in the Task Force recommendations or in the stated FCC plans," according to a document submitted by CAC Chairperson Debra Berlyn and posted online.

To rectify the situation, the CAC has called on the FCC to "ensure that the needs of people with disabilities, low-income individuals and other underserved groups be included in the mHealth Task Force efforts and that the Commission take steps to ensure the interests of underserved populations are addressed in the evaluation and resulting recommendations to address the issues of affordable connectivity and compatibility for telehealth devices, including accessibility for people with disabilities."

The CAC also urged the FCC to work closely with other federal agencies--including the Food and Drug Administration, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services--to accelerate their ongoing collaboration and ensure that the needs of underserved individuals are being addressed through the coordinated activities.

To learn more:
- read the FCC motion

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