Wednesday, April 21, 2010

AT&T to Advance Telehealth

A telehealth consortium led by the University of California, Office of the President and the UC Davis Health System was formed to create a statewide broadband system. AT&T was selected to build a secure medical-grade telecommunications system as part of the California Telehealth Network (CTN). AT&T with a three year $27 million contract will provide the Network Services to support the telehealth initiative.

Led by the University of California System, CTN is a partnership of organizations throughout the state established in 2007 with a $22 million pilot project from the FCC. The long range goal for CTN is to establish a statewide telehealth system linking a majority of state healthcare facilities including those in urban areas. The network team plans to train and support participants in the use of the telemedicine equipment and help them establish a working relationship with medical specialists and other health providers.

AT&T tasks for the project will establish new or upgrading existing telemedicine connections, especially in rural communities in the state. The project will increase bandwidth capacity for telecommunications so that clinics, hospitals, and other provider sites will have direct, peer-to-peer connectivity to all network members, plus provide connections to a wide range of external networks and services.

According to Dr. Cathryn L. Nation, University of California Associate Vice President for Health Sciences and Services, the new network is also designed to address healthcare disparities in the state since millions of Californians live in rural and other medically underserved areas in the state where disparities in care exist. CTN will improve their access to quality healthcare services.

Plans call for the network to be a peer-to-peer system enabling each member to have reliable, high quality connections with public and nonprofit healthcare providers located in both rural and urban locations. The network will also provide opportunities for continuing education and distance learning for health professionals, along with access to clinical research, and the possibility of access to commercially hosted EHR systems.

The contract award announcement will be finalized following formal approval by the Universal Service Administrative Company on behalf of the FCC.