White House ACP Week of Action

On June 16, 2023, Link Health served as the national coordinating partner for the White House’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Healthcare Day of Action. In the heart of Boston at the South End Community Health Center, it kicked off the day with a press briefing on healthcare’s role in amplifying the ACP with speakers that included senior officials from the Biden Administration, the Chief Information Officer for the City of Boston, and local health system leaders. Throughout the day, it led a coordinated campaign of in person (as above) and digital events, focused on what the healthcare sector can do to help increase ACP enrollments to bridge the digital divide. It brought over 40 healthcare organizations, dozens of healthcare influencers, and clinicians nationwide together around the concept of leveraging the ACP to address health equity.

Why is the ACP important for healthcare?

Despite widespread internet usage in the United States, 15–24% of Americans lack broadband internet connection, a foundational requirement for telehealth and the bevy of other services that underpin the social determinants of health. In fact, access to broadband internet has been considered a “super” social determinant of health (SDoH). This is why it is so critical that healthcare stakeholders spread the word about the ACP.

Increase in Telehealth: The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in widespread acceptance of telehealth and other digital innovations in medicine and dramatically increased the use of telehealth as an intervention to reach patients. A recent HHS study shows a 63-fold increase in Medicare telehealth utilization and 32-fold increase in behavioral health care through telehealth triggered by the pandemic.

Digital Health Tools and Telemedicine: According to a report by the American Hospital Association, 76% of U.S. hospitals connect with patients and consulting practitioners at a distance through the use of video and other technology. This means that without internet access, a significant number of patients could miss out on vital healthcare services.

Healthcare Cost Reduction: A study published in Health Affairs found that telemedicine and digital health interventions could save the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $305 billion annually. This is largely due to reduced hospital readmissions and more efficient care delivery, which are enabled by internet access.

Healthcare Disparities: According to the Federal Communications Commission, 30% of individuals in rural areas lack access to high-speed internet, compared to only 2% in urban areas. This digital divide exacerbates existing healthcare disparities, as individuals in rural areas often have less access to healthcare services.

Mental Health Services: A 2019 study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that 80% of internet users have searched for mental health information online. With the rise of digital mental health tools and online therapy, internet access is becoming increasingly important for mental health care.

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