Spotlight: RI Office of Innovation Work Supports Telehealth

  • 17 Jun 2021

As telehealth continues to serve as an important tool in primary care statewide, CTC-RI connected with Daniela Fairchild, MS Ed, Director of the RI Office of Innovation, who will participate in the June CTC-RI Clinical Strategy Committee panel discussing current and future state initiatives, from broadband access to telehealth and American Rescue Plan Act funds. In her work, Daniela leads collaborative, multi-partner projects in education, technology, and government innovation.

With over a decade of experience, from high school teaching to policy research to project implementation, Daniela brings a unique lens and set of experiences to her role, and served as RI-CAN’s director of strategy prior to her current role.

How do you see RI's technology advancements supporting primary care?

Through public-private partnerships and early support from the federal government, RI has invested in and built one of the most robust "middle-mile" broadband backbones in the nation. This broadband fiber runs throughout the state and provides necessary infrastructure for our residents, as well as our hospitals, primary care facilities, and other medical buildings. The infrastructure we've built could be further leveraged to support primary care – but will need smart planning and strong collaborations with public and private entities to come to bear. 

What innovation is happening at the state level that is impacting health care and the primary care industry?

Our world is only getting more connected – meaning that innovations within various sectors in the state impact others, including health care and primary care. In RI, we have been working to ensure digital literacy and device and internet access for all Rhode Islanders – critical to health and primary care. And separately, but related, the state passed a $20M bond in 2016 to bring entrepreneurs together with research institutions to grow access and new learnings in industries like healthcare, with Innovation Campuses like 401 Tech Bridge emerging. 

What role do you see CTC-RI playing in RI to advance and support your work?

Broadband access is imperative in our 21st century. It's not just about easier information sharing, virtual social interactions, and quick access to entertainment. 90% of job applications are now found online. Government services, from HealthSource RI registration to unemployment insurance filing, are increasingly moving online. And the request for in-home internet-based health care is only going to increase. Yet it's a "wicked problem" – not easy to solve through one entity or one effort. While RI has an enviable middle mile, we still have double-digit percentages of Rhode Islanders who lack in-home internet access. These percentages are highest (upwards of 50% in some cases) in our urban core and amongst our older adults. To solve for this "wicked problem," we need more advocates, partners, and thought leaders. As we solve for this, the state needs entities like CTC-RI to help represent both the telehealth needs of our residents as well as the infrastructure and cyber security needs of our health care providers.