The Possible Effects of Net Neutrality Rollback on Senior Living

Chris Lisser

Chris Lisser About The Author

April 10, 2018

Net Neutrality in Senior LivingOne of the biggest developments in the world of technology back in November was the rollback of net neutrality rules by the FCC. This decision by the Trump Administration has already created contention with many, and the ripple effects are still being forecasted. While it could affect numerous industries, those in senior living could see some of the biggest impact.

If you own a senior living facility, have you thought about what the net neutrality rollback could do to your business? No doubt you depend on a fast network, as well as other technologies that remain connected online 24/7. With limited access to the Internet, new hurdles will be put in place that might affect operations for your community. 

Internet Speeds

Many people are worried about internet speeds being affected due to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) now having free reign to slow down speeds at their discretion. Despite many internet providers reassuring customers they won't decrease internet speeds, what happens if your senior living facility suddenly had to face a slower network? How would you handle having to pay a higher internet bill just to assure it remains working at the speed you need?

These are what could happen in the near future, despite being unclear if they will. You may deem your community a small business, and this is the industry niche dealing with the most worry. The New York Times reported recently how many small businesses depend on the internet for day-to-day operations

Your care staff without a doubt depends on the internet every day to help with their day-to-day duties in your community as well as to collaborate with others outside of it. When you need to find a fast diagnosis for a resident or need access to medical history information for treatment, a slow network could mean the difference between life and death. 

Considering video collaborations require a fast network speed, it could end up looking like video chats from a decade ago when they'd often freeze in the middle of conversations or not have the bandwidth required to run smoothly.

Patient Monitoring Technologies

Monitoring the health of patients in long-term care communities is an important part of maintaining quality of life for each resident. These monitoring tools also rely on internet connection, typically through smart devices.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a critical tool for the senior living industry to aid in better monitoring patients with serious health issues. With a slower network, this could radically change the ability to keep patients properly monitored.

Despite many arguments saying the net neutrality rollback won't affect these devices, you'll find counter arguments saying it's the government being naïve. Then again, many monitoring devices don't require a huge amount of bandwidth to operate adequately.

Your communities may depend on one ISP, and that's where the biggest concern lies. In most cases, it depends on which provider your community relies on and the access to bandwidth and services they provide. This might prompt changing your ISP or buying new services for your community, increasing costs on all levels.   

Other Problems, But Also Solutions

Telemedicine is going to perhaps become the most affected as alluded above. Plus, how much you're forced to pay to your internet provider for regular service could become a factor, which will drastically affect your community's technology budget. With technology being such a key factor in the regular functions of your care community, access to the Internet is indispensable and non-negotiable, especially for those who have moved to working completely on digital platforms.

Bottom Line

Stay informed of your ISP’s policies and to watch for media and watchdog reports of limiting bandwidth for customers. It is always wise to use more than one ISP, not only to provide protection from network outages, but also as a safeguard against ISP slowdowns. Businesses can also look at their contracts with ISPs; often, broadband agreements such as cable Internet provide limited service level agreements, whereas products like dedicated Internet access come with committed Internet speeds, stronger service level agreements, and guarantees against bandwidth limiting.

Ensure your managed services provider can help you find the best rates and service levels to ensure networks are highly available and key services stay accessible.