The COVID-19 pandemic helped prove the value of telehealth services in helping expand access to health services. Unfortunately, many cannot access telehealth due the lack of high quality broadband. This may be because broadband is unavailable in their area, or because it is not affordable for their household. One solution to these connectivity challenges is to utilize wireless internet to help connect individuals to telehealth resources.
MetTel is a nationwide mobile carrier that is developing a single SIM solution to help people utilize mobile broadband to access telehealth. MetTel has wholesale agreements with all major mobile networks in the US, allowing devices fitted with their SIM cards to always be able to connect to the strongest mobile signal available. MetTel equips tablets with their SIM cards, pre-loads them with Zoom, and then delivers the devices to healthcare providers to use as a telehealth platform for their patients.
Zoom is pre-loaded onto the tablets in a special kiosk mode that only displays a select number of buttons for the patient to click. These buttons jump the patient directly into a zoom call with different resources offered by the healthcare provider, ensuring the maximum simplicity from the patient standpoint. Connectivity is delivered through a mobile connection, and the Zoom app dynamically adjusts bandwidth to minimize disruptions from poor service. One example of how the platform may be used is by critical access emergency rooms, whose patients often need access to specialized services like mental health or addiction treatment that the community does not have. These patients would be able to use the tablets to access specialized care remotely while sitting in a private room of the health center.
A major benefit of this model for health providers is that the tablets are a fully managed solution. MetTel handles procuring and equipping the devices, so the system does not create any additional burden on providers’ IT departments. Currently, the team is exploring options to deploy this solution throughout Missouri, working with state legislators, local government officials, critical access hospitals, federally qualified health centers, and other groups to expand the use of these tools to support telehealth access.
Louanne Gonzales, President at Advanced Physician Recruitment, Chase Hochstin, Regional Director of Channel Sales at MetTel, and Tyler Fiore, Solutions Engineer at Zoom presented to the Health Innovation Team on October 26, 2022.