The $30 million-plus federally backed network will allow doctors and patients to have expanded broadband telecommunications capability, all intended to improve access to specialty medical care in rural and other underserved parts of the state.
Health care facilities interested in participating need to take two initial steps: complete an online readiness survey and submit a brief Letter Of Agency -- a document formally expressing interest in participating. The deadline for submitting an LOA is July 30. Information and instructions are available at www.caltelehealth.org. Also, there is a hotline number, (916) 734-3008.
Nearly 400 clinics already have completed the readiness survey, but as of today, many have not submitted a Letter Of Agency. Over the next three years, the CTN will begin to connect primarily rural clinics to a statewide and nationwide broadband telehealth network, with a goal of connecting 100 clinics in the first year.
The broadband telecommunications connection will be free to eligible clinics, and will enable communities to develop future contracts for the provision of specialty and emergency telemedicine care from other providers and hospitals.
"Our advisory council -- with representatives from rural clinics, nonprofit technology groups and government broadband leaders -- met last week and is hopeful that more rural clinics will submit LOAs by the 30th. It is important for the California project to have as many LOAs as possible in order to secure the maximum available federal funding," said Cathryn Nation, MD, associate vice president for health sciences with the UC Office of the President and co-director for the project.
"The California network was the second largest project funded by the FCC under this pilot program. California is looking forward to continuing its telehealth leadership and connecting more clinics in underserved areas to this unprecedented telemedicine network," said Thomas Nesbitt, MD, executive associate dean for clinical and administrative affairs with the UC Davis Health System and co-director for the project.
At the request of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, UC is managing the CTN, working in partnership with a coalition of government agencies, health care providers and others.
The CTN is part of a $417 million Federal Communications Commission initiative launched in November to create 69 networks nationwide under its Rural Health Care Pilot Program. The commission awarded $22 million to the CTN, which is also receiving funds from the California Emerging Technology Fund and UnitedHealth Group Inc.
The future peer-to-peer telehealth network will be designed to enable a high-quality broadband connection to a statewide and nationwide network dedicated to health care, offering communities increased access to specialty medical care in more than 40 specialties, continuing education/distance learning, disaster preparedness and access to new technologies.
The CTN will be available to both for-profit and nonprofit facilities in the state. In addition to receiving a free connection to the broadband network, participating facilities will receive technical support and may have some capital equipment costs offset as well.
For more information: www.caltelehealth.org