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How Does the Net Neutrality Repeal Affect Telemedicine?

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 along partisan lines to repeal the 2015 ruling that instituted net neutrality. When the repeal takes effect in February, internet service providers (ISPs) will no longer be prohibited from blocking or slowing particular web content, or from charging distinct prices for different connection speeds. While some experts welcome the freedom of an open internet, transparency rules, and the stimulation of business development, others are more skeptical of the ramifications of such a move on the telemedicine industry and its patients.

The Obama-era regulation banned paid prioritization on certain types of content or connection speeds, preventing ISPs from intentionally throttling consumers’ usage of services that compete with the ISPs’ own offerings. The end of net neutrality could see a return of this practice, as well as tiered pricing for various levels of bandwidth. Supporters have expressed hope that the repeal will allow ISPs to prioritize certain services, such as latency-sensitive telemedicine, as the internet service market allows more competition and consumer choice.

However, critics disagree. When the net neutrality order was passed, the FCC also created a category of services, including internet phone services and heart monitors, that are entitled to higher connection speeds. While the FCC could prioritize healthcare services again, this option would not help home health patients who use their home internet connections to consult with their care providers via telemedicine.

The largest concern boils down to patients vs. budgets: If ISPs begin charging big bucks for high bandwidth, then smaller hospitals and facilities, especially those in rural areas, may not have the funds to purchase high-bandwidth connections. For most telemedicine platforms, not having high bandwidth means not having a reliable connection, which means no telemedicine. Many experts fear that in this scenario, smaller facilities are likely to give up integrating telemedicine into their practices—at the expense of their patients’ care—in favor of preserving budgets.

On the other hand, even if gargantuan healthcare conglomerations do invest in high bandwidth, their patients’ telemedicine visits may still be limited by the more affordable, slower internet speeds at their local clinics or at home. No matter what, the problem remains the same: the lack of access to high bandwidth limits access to telemedicine.

Or does it?

What if a telemedicine system had the ability to maintain a high-quality, low-latency, encrypted connection, even in low-bandwidth environments? swyMed’s patented data transport protocol enables real-time, high-definition video communication in challenging network settings while maintaining a reliable, consistent, and secure connection. Thus, swyMed’s software does not require high bandwidth to conduct a high-quality telemedicine visit.

With swyMed, smaller hospitals and facilities could choose the lower-price internet connection speed without sacrificing telemedicine or profits; even if the facilities and home health patients both have low bandwidth, swyMed will work beautifully.

With swyMed, larger facilities with high bandwidth will enjoy efficiency and have peace of mind knowing that their remote clinics and patients are relying on software that functions reliably in low-bandwidth settings.

With swyMed, patients will appreciate the simplicity and dependability of user-friendly software that they can use at home on their computers, tablets, or smartphones, even at low internet speeds.

With swyMed, net neutrality doesn’t matter because bandwidth doesn’t matter. As markets and consumers adjust to the repeal of net neutrality, no one knows what the consequences will be. Only one thing is certain: When the dust settles, swyMed will be leading the pack because the ruling won’t slow us down at all.

To learn more about swyMed, visit here.

To request a demo of swyMed, contact us online today!

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