Telehealth Broadband Pilot Program
The Telehealth Broadband Pilot Program is a grant-funded initiative to measure broadband performance and Internet availability in West Virginia, with an emphasis on evaluating how connectivity affects telemedicine access. The goal of the project is to collect accurate data to support future broadband deployment efforts. The West Virginia Primary Care Association provides the necessary hardware, software, and training to partnering institutions for no cost to them. The initial phase of the project involves measuring broadband in healthcare facilities by using a small hardware device that plugs into network connection. These devices run Internet speed tests on a recurring schedule, with a dashboard for viewing test results. Participating in this program will allow you to collect Internet speed data for your facilities, which can help you identify potential problems with your Internet access, degradations in service, and determine if you are receiving the Internet speeds that you are paying for. Data will also be used to help determine if broadband is available in your community, and may help identify areas that need more broadband investment. Later phases of the project will include web- and mobile-based speed tests, and participants will expand to include consumers within each community. We will measure broadband performance and Internet availability, focusing on Calhoun, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Nicholas, Roane, and Ritchie, but measurements are being taken across the state.
How Can I Participate:
To start, perform a speed test on your computer by going to Speedtest by Ookla - The Global Broadband Speed Test. Record your speed and keep this information as a baseline. In order to receive a pod, please contact WVPCA Special Projects Director, Aaron Johnson, at email@example.com.
Participating Health Centers:
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. I want to participate in the program! What do I need to do?
Work with your Community Lead Partner to determine how many measurement devices you will need, and for which sites. Devices and training will be provided at no cost to interested and eligible participants within the counties served by this project.
2. I received a measurement device in my healthcare facility or anchor institution. What do I do with it?
The device should be “plug-and-play” when it arrives at your site. Simply plug the device into a standard 110 volt power source and connect it to an active network jack and the device will do the rest. If you are using the web-based portal to manage your devices, you should be able to see it show as online within a few minutes.
3. My measurement device isn’t showing up in my management portal! What’s wrong?
If you cannot find your device in your web-based portal (identified by the unique ID printed on it), there is a good chance that it hasn’t been formally registered to your organization. Work with your Community Lead Partner to “claim” the device through the portal. This is only necessary if you are actively managing devices for your organization; some sites may choose to let the community lead partner manage and monitor the devices.
4. How long do I need to let the measurement device run?
Your Community Lead Partner can work with you to identify the appropriate amount of time to allow the device to run. The project leader is requesting at least three months of measurement data for each clinic or anchor institution, but the device can be run for more or less time depending on your needs. Some sites have been running multiple devices for almost a year!
5. I want to move my measurement device. Is that okay?
Each device is associated with a specific location, including an address (if available) and precise latitude and longitude coordinates. If you choose to physically move the device you need to be certain to update its location in the web-based management portal. This may require coordination with your Community Lead Partner if they are managing your devices for you.
6. I want to view my data! How do I do that?
A web-based portal provides access to all of the devices managed by your organization. You can view device status as well as all test results from this portal, and you can export your data to an Excel file for additional analysis.
7. Can the measurement devices monitor my network traffic, including web sites that I visit or traffic between devices in my home or work environment?
No. These devices only measure the speed of the Internet from where they are installed, and do not have any ability to monitor other network traffic.
8. How are the measurement devices secured?
The operating system used for this is a minimal version of Debian 11, which means non-essential services and features are never installed in order to reduce potential vulnerabilities. Minimal network services are enabled, and in-bound ports are disabled. Security updates and patches are automatically applied on a daily basis. The software used to perform the speed tests only accepts updates from a centralized server, and will only execute code that has been digitally signed with a certificate. Additional security information is available for those interested.
9. Who else has access to my data?
There are three groups that have access to all data collected across four states as part of this project: the team at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, which is managing this grant, the data evaluation team at the University of Arkansas, and the software development company that is building the technology.
Two groups will have access to all data collected within your state as part of this project: The Community Lead Partner and any members of your organization who have access to the web-based portal will also be able to view data from your devices.
Non-CLP participants within your state cannot view detailed data for your organization, nor can they CLPs or participants from other states. Aggregate or averaged data may be available to allow comparisons between state and national averages.
The speed test software used as par5t of this project will record basic speed test information on centralized servers run by M-Labs and Ookla. The data provided is similar to running a speed test through a browser on a computer or mobile device.
10. Will this impact my network performance or use up my bandwidth cap?
The test will temporarily use as much bandwidth as is available on your network, just like if someone on clicked an internet-based speed test. Testing is typically completed in less than a minute. Metered connections may be impacted; work with your Community Lead Partner to ensure your devices are configured to run at a frequency that is acceptable for your network.
11. My measurement device isn’t working. What do I do?
Work with your Community Lead Partner to perform routine troubleshooting. If the device still isn’t working, your CLP will escalate your issue to the technical team at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium for further assistance.
12. This is really cool! Can I put one of these in my house?
The technology can be used anywhere there is power and a network connection. Work with your Community Lead Partner to determine if your state has enough devices available for one to be used in a residential setting. Future versions of the measurement device will provide more features specifically for use in a home environment.
13. I want to use one of these devices but I don’t have wired network connection. What are my options?
At this time, the project is focusing on measuring Internet speed in locations with wired connectivity. Future versions of the device will work in locations served by cellular connections.
14. I want to run a speed test but don’t want to install one of the devices. Is that possible?
The team is developing a web-based test as part of this project. This will allow anyone to run a quick speed test from a browser on a laptop, PC, or mobile device, and will record your results as part of our four-state assessment.
15. I don’t have ANY Internet in my area. How can I run a speed test if I don’t have Internet?
Our project aims to provide an accurate map of where broadband is, as well as where it isn’t. The team is working to create a mobile application that would allow you to attempt a speed test over cellular or wireless connectivity. If the test fails because connectivity is not available, it will capture location data at the time the test was run, and report the failed test back to our system the next time the device connects to the Internet.
West Virginia Broadband Survey
Apart from the direct data collection component of this project, we are looking to further understand the impact of broadband on rural areas and would be grateful if you could spare 20 minutes or so to complete this survey on the subject. Your input will be incredibly valuable in informing our decisions on how to improve broadband access and availability in rural areas. The survey is to be taken at your place of residence, if at all possible, as there is a speed test you can run during the survey. The first 30 eligible people to take this survey in your county will receive a $30 prepaid gift card for their time. Please feel free to share this email with as many people in your community as possible. Thank you for your time and assistance.
Survey link: https://bit.ly/WVbroadbandsurvey.
Survey Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is the purpose of this survey?
The purpose of this survey study is to learn more about people’s internet access in the following 7 West Vrginia counties, Calhoun, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Nicholas, Roane, and Ritchie. We also want to know how you video stream, browse the internet or have telehealth visits with your health care provider.
2. Who is this survey for?
This survey is meant for adults over 18 years of age.
3. What is telehealth?
Telehealth is when you have a visit with a health care provider using a digital device like your mobile phone or computer instead of going to the health care provider’s office or clinic.
4. Do I have to take this survey?
No, you do not have to take this survey. Your answers will not affect your chances to sign up for any programs.
5. How long will the survey take?
The survey will take you about 20 minutes to finish. Once you complete and submit the survey, your part in the study is over. You will receive a $30 pre-paid Visa gift card by mail for your participation.
6. Will my answers be kept private?
Any data collected will not be able to identify you as an individual. We will ask for your name, birth date, and address in order to send you the $30 pre-paid Visa gift card. This information will not be connected to your survey responses. Your answers will be used for research purposes and will stay anonymous and private.
QUICK TIP: It will be helpful to have a copy of your internet bill in participating in this survey. You will also have the option to run an instant diagnostic test on your internet speed and receive your results at the end of the survey.
Got Questions?We're here to Help! Contact WVPCA Special Projects Director, Aaron Johnson, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 304-346-0032.
This project is funded through Health Resources and Services Administration grant number GA5RH40183, awarded to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. The West Virginia Primary Care Association is one of three sub-awardees supporting this grant.