Support for telehealth as a viable healthcare delivery model received an enormous boost on Tuesday when Calif. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra joined a diverse group of statewide healthcare and technology agencies to launch the California Telehealth Network (CTN), the largest broadband network dedicated to telehealth in the nation.
The event, held at the University of California, Davis Cancer Center, unveiled a network that will provide specialty care in medically underserved rural and urban areas by connecting more than 800 Calif. clinics and hospitals to a statewide medical-grade network of healthcare and emergency services.
The CTN will integrate wireless and broadband communications technology with medical devices and applications to support technologies like videoconferencing that allow doctors and patients in distant locations to have an in-person-meeting experience. The network will also support telehealth devices such as wireless sensors that remotely monitor heart rhythm and portable glucose monitoring systems.
"California is always leading the way with the most innovative and new technology that is changing the future. And, what we are launching today is a new era for healthcare," Gov. Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
Schwarzenegger described the CTN as a state-of-the-art system that will save lives by instantly connecting people from across the state, including underserved and rural areas, with the best and brightest doctors. "The California Telehealth Network marks the beginning of a new digital highway that will fundamentally change the future of how healthcare is provided," he said.
The CTN is a $30 million joint funding effort between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), the California Healthcare Foundation, UnitedHealthcare, the National Coalition for Healthcare Integration, the University of California, and other private and public entities. It represents the largest single-state grant award of its kind.
The network is also supported by AT&T, which is providing network infrastructure and managed network services for CTN as part of a three-year, $27 million contract that was announced in April.
"There is great need for more accessible acute and specialty care in medically underserved areas across California," U.S. CTO Chopra said in a statement. "With the $22.1 million in grant funding from the FCC, along with $3.6 million in matching funds from the CETF, the CTN will help improve access to quality healthcare in rural and medically underserved areas, over a secure, managed network enabling the delivery of emerging eHealth and telemedicine services."
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