California's new telehealth network gets $14M boost

By Bernie Monegain
10:06 AM

The new California Telehealth Network, a statewide, medical-grade broadband system for improving healthcare access and emergency services, will receive a $9 million federal grant and additional $5 million in matching funds from some prominent California organizations.

The participating organizations are: The National Coalition for Health Integration, United HealthCare, the California HealthCare Foundation and the University of California.

The grant award, announced Sept. 13 by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, will fund telehealth and eHealth equipment and training for healthcare providers implementing broadband-based technologies designed to improve care and expand access to services.

The new funding, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, follows $30 million from the Federal Communications Commission, the California Emerging Technology Fund and the California Public Utilities Commission to build and connect the network.

The grant supports extensive online, in-person and community-based training in a range of technologies designed to increase the public's digital literacy. It also will help fund network operations, as well as the installation of broadband equipment – typically consisting of videoconferencing units and special cameras to record clinical information – to establish new telehealth programs in various communities around the state.

"California is always leading the way with the most innovative and new technology that is changing the future," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Telehealth is the future of medicine, and the Golden State is spearheading the largest, state-of-the-art network in the nation. This federal grant will help strengthen participation in the telehealth network and expand quality medical access to millions of Californians statewide."

Schwarzenegger joined U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and a diverse group of statewide health-care and technology agencies at the UC Davis Cancer Center last month to announce the official launch of the California Telehealth Network (CTN), which will be the largest dedicated telehealth network in the country.

UC Davis Health System, the lead agency for the grant, is overseeing much of the new network's implementation, which includes plans to connect more than 800 health-care clinics and hospitals together in a system.