Ask me anything! Friday with Craig Settles, Community Telehealth Pioneer 2:30 p.m. ET: Broadband Lunch

Today, senator Ed markey, D-Mass., Senator Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, and representative Grace Meng, DN.Y., led 40 members of Congress to introduce the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Student Success Act (SUCCESS). The bill would extend the Emergency Connectivity Fund for five years and provide $ 8 billion per year to schools and libraries for off-campus student connectivity.

Hair salons and barber shops are long-standing institutions in African American communities that have shown promise to advance telehealth. Their partnership with libraries (a broadband anchor institution) and the Biden administration’s recruitment of 1,000 stores and lounges to help fight COVID-19, telehealth and public health in these communities could become excessive.

Missing its July 4 COVID-19 vaccination targets, the Biden administration raised funds to turn stores into mini-medical centers. This success motivates traders to do more. As one of the $ 7 billion broadband fund targets, libraries are idea partners who can deliver broadband services, digital content, and digital literacy and health store customers. .

Mike brown operates a hair salon in Hyattsville, Maryland, and participated in the immunization program. Brown and other owners talk to their clients about the proven efficacy of vaccines. “I use my platform to stand up for the truth and dispel myths,” Mr. Brown said in a Wall Street Journal article, which also ran an immunization clinic at his store. “I have vaccinated about 60% of my clients. “

The program has opened the eyes of store owners to the power they have to make a difference in the health care of their communities. It is a logical transition from the vaccination program to screening for hypertension. Urban Kutz Hair Salons in Cleveland have been selecting their clients for 12 years, most recently with telehealth assistance from the famous Cleveland Clinic.

Owner Waverley Willis said “Barbers and hairdressers are part-time marriage counselors, psychiatrists, spiritual counselors and expert listeners. So many clients listen to our medical advice. It has also had a noticeable impact on many of its clients’ healthy eating habits.

Thinking differently about broadband, public health and telehealth

On July 1, the Federal Communications Commission initiated a Emergency Connectivity Fund $ 7.1 billion in broadband and digital technology funding to support libraries and schools. By August 13, libraries interested in program grants must submit a proposal on how they plan to spend money on laptops, wireless access points, internet services, and other resources. libraries to advance education and distance learning.

A generous interpretation of “education” allows libraries to serve any customer with broadband. If the libraries are located in areas where there are no ISP services, they can ask ECF for money to build their own. broadband infrastructure for unserved customers. Unlike traditional electronic pricing proposals, ECF does not require a competitive bid for services, which means libraries can quote from the first vendor they contact.

Libraries in partnership with stores and health organizations could provide stores with laptops, telehealth software and portable hotspots to provide hypertension screening and other health services tailored to the needs of the patient. their clients for up to three years. Store owners often do not have computer devices or Internet access in their stores. Telehealth devices such as portable digital blood pressure monitors and digital scales will need to be provided separately and possibly with funds from another government agency such as Health & Human Services.

For hypertension screening, for example, stores can digitally measure customers’ blood pressure. The health care provider takes this data through telehealth and recommends treatment when needed or recommended. The partner would likely have set tariffs for its health services. Stores can then decide what additional telehealth services they wish to provide.

Stores could work with libraries to develop health information and interactive web content to reduce hypertension and other medical conditions through healthier lifestyles, and libraries can provide telehealth services beyond what stores can do.

Libraries and stores can also nominate customers who need a laptop computer, access points and telehealth software for chronic conditions such as severe hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, mental health treatments, etc. However, these devices in this scenario should be distributed for periods longer than just a few weeks. For occasional medical appointments, libraries can lend laptops and hotspots for limited terms such as two or three weeks. Libraries are good at delivering digital literacy and training programs.

Why Hair Salons, Hair Salons and Libraries?

The facilitation of telehealth and health care has an educational component for clients of hair salons and salons as well as for users of the general library. These health services and information help both groups of people learn more about their own health, enable them to respond effectively to medical problems, and to be more proactive in taking charge of their own health.

The ability of stores and salons to reach and impact African American communities is legendary. “This type of hair salon health initiative has proven to be effective,” said Cameron Webb, a senior White House health equity adviser on the coronavirus. Willis adds, “On more than one occasion, a guy arterial pressure would be so high that we would urge him to skip the Haircut and go straight to the emergency room.

The author of this advisory is municipal broadband expert and industry analyst Craig Settles.

Libraries have years of experience in bringing new technologies such as broadband to underserved populations. Matt McLain, associate director for community engagement at the Salt Lake County Library, said, “We’ve had pretty good success reaching Hispanic populations in their markets. We also have Asian markets here. And our health initiatives are quite important with church leaders in those communities. “

The gaps in healthcare and broadband are real and deadly! So many elements of the COVID pandemic reiterate the imminence of these shortcomings. According to the Centers for Disease Control, among data collected as of June 14, nearly two-thirds of people who received at least one dose of the vaccine were Caucasian. Only 9% were African Americans. 14 million urban households cannot access any broadband, without which you cannot get telehealth, and 75% are black or other people of color.

There may never be as many federal broadband and health-related subsidy programs as we see now. There are many potential partnerships between libraries and hairdressing salons. Are public health practitioners and advocates, broadband vendors, and community leaders going to step in?

Craig Settles conducts needs analyzes with community stakeholders who want broadband networks to improve economic development, healthcare, education and local government. He hosts the radio show Gigabit Country, and is director of United communities for broadband, a national grassroots effort to help communities launch their networks. He recently created a to guide to help librarians discover client health needs, create community health milestones and effectively market telehealth. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts comments from observers of the broadband scene. Please send articles to [email protected] The opinions expressed in expert opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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