This last year health care providers have turned to telehealth as a solution to reach patients for health care needs. Sadly, telehealth isn’t much of a solution to rural communities lacking access to broadband internet. The need for immediate action is evident, particularly as rural Idaho becomes increasingly reliant on internet-based technologies.

When communities don’t have broadband access, local health care providers are at a disadvantage. That’s why rural Idaho needs an enhanced broadband infrastructure. Happily, fiber optics provide the answer. Fiber optics use small glass fibers that transmit data using pulses of light. Because these cables are typically buried in the ground, this helps to preserve the beauty of our great state. More importantly, by implementing broadband internet in this manner, Idaho will be less reliant on technologies that use electromagnetic radiation. As a medical provider, I can tell you that’s a good thing.

To help rural Idaho, a group of community leaders have joined together in an effort called Imagine Idaho. The coalition is committed to serving rural Idaho by promoting state policy favoring communities needing broadband and securing significant federal funding to deploy broadband communications infrastructure in a pro-competitive way. Idaho’s rural internet divide is real and when telehealth has been offered as a way to improve access to health care, it can only work if health care providers and patients have access to a reliable broadband internet connection. Increasing broadband access to rural areas will help improve the quality of life of all Idahoans.

Joseph W. Petrie, PAC