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Authors

  1. Griner, Todd E. DNP, RN, NEA-BC

Abstract

The Internet is a utility, just as water and electricity are, and is directly linked to care outcomes, budgeting considerations, and workforce acquisition. If water or electricity services were to be throttled up and down or commoditized, it would be important for health care leaders to understand and prepare for the resulting disruptions. In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to eliminate consumer protection regulations that stopped Internet service providers from interfering with Internet service put in place under President Bush and maintained during the Obama administration. The elimination of these protections threatens to disrupt the Internet as the platform on which our health care industry builds capacity for health information exchange. The ability of Internet service providers to throttle up and down speed based on their own interests threatens our ability to meet community needs and increases the likelihood of health care disparities, just as would happen if city water providers could ration water based on their own economic interests. Proponents for net in-neutrality argue that not all Internet traffic should be equal. For instance, there could be an advantage for health care if data traffic related to health care operations was prioritized over video streaming a movie or uploading a video, but if health care companies would be required to pay for that speed, there would be financial considerations. Nurse leaders need to understand the real and possible consequences of the Internet's lack of consumer protection regulations.