The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced $145 million worth of funding to construct 16 additional broadband telehealth networks that will connect hundreds of care centers regionally in different states across the country.
“These health care networks will enable robust telemedicine services and provide high-speed highways for electronic medical records, saving lives by improving health care in rural America,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The states included in the funding are Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
“They are an important step toward realizing our national commitment to bring the benefits of robust broadband to every corner of our country. I am pleased with the progress that the Pilot Program is making. At the same time, I understand certain projects need additional time and am happy the FCC can provide additional flexibility for the build-out of these critical health care networks.”
The networks are designed to provide critical, high-speed information links that can help bolster the quality of health care in rural communities.
This funding announcement is in addition to six projects previously approved for up to $46.2 million in funding, as announced by the FCC on April 16, 2009.
To help ensure the success of the networks in the Pilot Program, the FCC has also extended by one year a key project deadline for selecting a vendor, to June 30, 2011. Many of the projects in the Pilot Program have experienced delays due to coordination with potential American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, or ongoing negotiations with vendors for network deployment. The extension provides additional time needed by participants to select vendors and seek funding commitments.
The FCC established the $417 million Pilot Program to increase patient access to care via telemedicine and support the transfer of electronic medical records, which will improve the quality of care.
Nationwide, 62 projects are eligible to receive Pilot Program funding for telehealth networks serving 6,000 health care facilities in 42 states and three U.S. territories, using broadband technology to bring state-of-the-art medical practices to isolated rural communities. Over one-third of the networks have received funding commitment letters. Another 21 projects have posted requests for proposals to select vendors to build out their broadband networks, but have not yet selected a vendor.
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