Broadband Initiative To Link Colorado Hospitals

Clinicians in 400 rural healthcare facilities will be able to tap expertise at larger medical centers.
But for the approximately 400 non-profit providers in rural communities, most have been relying on "slow Internet access, snail mail and patients driving" themselves and a copy of their records to share medical information and collaborate with specialists from medical centers in metro regions of the state, such as Denver and Boulder, he said.

The new broadband links will allow doctors in rural hospitals to send large medical digital images, like X-rays and ultrasounds, to other radiologists and other specialists for diagnosis and second opinions, said Summer.

Also, the broadband will allow smaller rural hospitals' intensive care units to tap the expertise of intensivists at other hospitals in larger cities, for example, says Summer. Those intensivists-- physicians who specialize in the care of critically ill patients-- can assist doctors in remote rural hospitals provide care to patients. Through broadband connections, the remote doctors can help monitor patients too sick to transfer, he says. "Some of these larger medical centers are hundreds of miles, many hours away," said Summer.

Behavioral health professionals and their patients will also be linked into the network for remote consultations and counseling using video-conferencing and other technologies, said Summer.

Approximately 70% of the rural healthcare providers will be linked into the network over the next seven months, with the rest by end of 2010, said Montgomery.

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