Sunday, January 9, 2011

Broadband Helping Telemedicine

More than $4 billion in Recovery Act funding was allocated to Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The funding helped deploy broadband infrastructure, expand public computer centers, promoted the sustainable adoption of broadband services. Today, BTOP projects are in the process of directly connecting or improving connection speeds for nearly 3, 000 hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

The Recovery Act funded grants to 56 grantees one from each state, a U.S. territory, and D.C. NTIA has just prepared a document that gives an overview for the grant awards. The publication “The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program: Expanding Broadband Access and Adoption in Communities Across America” specifically has information on programs developed that will or have helped deliver telemedicine to communities.

For example the ION Upstate New York Rural Broadband Initiative will expand a broadband middle mile network in Upstate New York and parts of Pennsylvania and Vermont. The project plans to extend its relationship with the New York State Office for Mental Health and the Bassett Hospital and Healthcare system to enable the state and Bassett to upgrade their telemedicine practices and better serve rural residents.

The Pennsylvania Research and Education Network or PennREN, intends to connect community institutions in South and Central Pennsylvania, PennREN plans to become the main artery for the exchange of healthcare information across the state, linking the Hospital and Healthcare Services Association of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, the Pennsylvania eHealth Initiative and the Mountain Health Care Alliance.

The Iowa Health System (IHS) is upgrading its 3,200 mile broadband network connecting or improving connection speeds for over 200 healthcare entities across the state including hospitals, primary care physicians, medical facilities, community health centers, clinics, and other providers, many in rural areas.

The state’s broadband capabilities will improve healthcare delivery, telemedicine, 3-D imaging, diagnosis, monitoring, transferring EHRs, research and distance education. In addition, Central Iowa Hospital Corporation’s Rural Telehealth Initiative links healthcare providers, EMS units, city governments, and schools to provide telehealth, improve health related distance learning, enhance EMS capability and disaster readiness, and provide telehealth services to correctional facilities.

The Nevada Hospital Association is building and will operate a telehealth network to connect 37 rural medical providers and the University of Nevada Medical Center, plus the Indian Health Board of Nevada which represents 13 tribal medical facilities across the state. Construction for the network will entail building 224 new miles of fiber, use an additional 453 miles of existing fiber and 580 microwave miles. The network will enable videoconferencing, telemedicine applications, and us of EMRs.

Go to to view the report.