New telehealth network in the works
The New England Telehealth Consortium (NETC) has awarded a four-year contract worth more than $16 million to FairPoint Communications to provide carrier ethernet services to more than 400 healthcare sites in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
"We are extremely pleased and look forward to partnering with the New England Telehealth Consortium," said Jeff Allen, FairPoint's executive vice president sales. "FairPoint has invested more than $190 million in communication infrastructure and technology to upgrade our state-of-the-art fiber network in northern New England and we will leverage this network to serve the technology needs of the consortium. This network is designed and built as a data network and is the largest of its kind in the three-state region."
NETC received a $24.6 million Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rural Health Care Pilot Program award to bring telemedicine to the region, the largest award issued by the FCC under the Rural Health Care Pilot Program.
NETC participants will be receiving upgrades and improvements to their broadband capabilities and connections while paying 15 percent of the initial upfront costs. The network is designed to expand telehealth and telemedicine capabilities of northern New England healthcare centers and to enhance their capacities for electronic health information exchange.
The network will deliver remote trauma consultation and expansive telemedicine by linking rural healthcare facilities – including hospitals, behavioral health sites and community healthcare centers – in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to urban hospitals and universities throughout northern New England.
[See also: Maine launches telehealth pilot.]
"The contract with FairPoint allows NETC to provide a sustainable broadband health care network to greatly improve the capability and efficiency of healthcare in northern New England," said Jim Rogers, president of ProInfoNet, the firm selected to design and implement the network. "The network created will help all these institutions – hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers, along with academic and research facilities – to share information that will ultimately benefit the patient whether the patient is in Burlington, Vermont; Millinocket, Maine; or Berlin, New Hampshire."
"This network will enable patients, especially in rural areas to receive top quality care through enhanced telemedicine and information sharing," said Brian Thibeau, NETC president. "The network will provide healthcare providers with quick and convenient access to the latest research and medical advances, speed the sharing of medical records and provide access for remote medical diagnostics and surgery, dentistry and behavioral health treatment."