The FCC has approved funding under the Rural Health Care Pilot Program (RHCPP) to build five broadband telehealth networks. The networks will link hundreds of hospitals regionally in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming plus funding has been approved for the design of a telehealth project in Alaska.
Collectively, these projects are eligible to receive $46 million in reimbursement for the engineering and construction of their regional telehealth networks. Funding for these projects was issued by the Universal Service Administrative Company which administers the RHCPP for the FCC.
Sixty seven projects are eligible to receive RHCPP funding for telehealth networks serving 6,000 healthcare facilities in 42 state and three U.S. territories using broadband technology to bring state-of-the-art medical practices to isolated rural communities.
At this time, 29 of the projects have developed or posted requests for proposals to select vendors to build out their broadband networks, while the remaining projects are preparing their requests for proposals as part of the competitive bidding process.
Update on specific RHCPP projects:
- Health Information Exchange of Montana ($13.6 million)—A new fiber network is scheduled to connect healthcare providers in the state to provide distance consultations, electronic record keeping and exchange, disaster readiness, clinical research, and distance education
- Palmetto State Providers Network ($7.9 million)—This project will connect healthcare providers to a fiber optic backbone to enhance simulation training, remote intensive care unit monitoring, and medical education in South Carolina
- Iowa Health System ($7.8 million)—This project will use new network connections to link healthcare providers to an existing statewide dedicated, broadband healthcare network, Internet2, and National LambdaRail
- Heartland Unified Broadband Network ($4.7 million)—This project is expanding and improving an existing network to increase the use and quality of teleradiology and distance education activities throughout Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming
- Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative ($1.6 million)—This project has augmented an existing shared electronic health records project to provide healthcare providers in Wisconsin with access to redundant connectivity and data centers, as well as higher speeds that will range from 10 to 100Mbps
- Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium ($10.4 million)—The consortium’s network will serve primarily rural healthcare practitioners to unify and increase the capacity of disparate healthcare networks throughout Alaska allowing them to connect with urban health centers and access services in the lower 48 states