The repeal of net neutrality could adversely affect the delivery of health care, Professor Robert Field warned in an essay published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on Dec. 13.
“The Internet is key to the spread of telemedicine, the next frontier in medical practice,” Field wrote. “This technology gives patients in rural areas and those with limited mobility the same access to top physicians as those who live in big cities and have greater mobility.”
Field noted, however, that telemedicine consultations travel over the Internet and rely on “data-hogging video” that must be encrypted to comply with federal privacy rules that add even more data demands.
“Without net neutrality rules, Internet Service Providers might balk at providing sufficient bandwidth,” Field said.
While the major ISPs have pledged to abide by the principles of net neutrality, Field added, they may have little incentive to abide by that commitment and their peers in rural areas may not be able to follow suit
“The Internet has become essential for many aspects of our lives,” he said. “It is not just access to social media and movie downloads that could become more difficult. The future of medical innovation could be diminished as well.”