Fiber optic telecommunications will improve the quality of health care at a time when health care is asked to do more with less.
Rural health care facilities in eight counties in northern New York will have high quality, affordable digital connectivity necessary to share telemedicine and telehealth services starting in late November.
The Adirondack – Champlain Telemedicine Information Network (ACTION) is a regional initiative formed to create a fiber optic telecommunications and telemedicine network that connects eight participating hospitals, 40 primary care facilities affiliated with these hospitals and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Health Care Facility.
“Elizabethtown Community Hospital has had access to its own fiber optic lines, along with the ability to offer telemedicine, for a number of years,” said Jane Hooper, Director of Community Relations for Elizabethtown Community Hospital. “The completion of this regional project will give ECH the opportunity to expand its telemedicine capabilities to any hospital within the region; increasing access to specialty care from its facility in Elizabethtown and its community-based health centers.
“Additionally, it will allow ECH to easily share patient information; increasing patient safety by alerting providers to allergies or pre-existing conditions that may affect treatment.”
The network encompasses Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Rensselaer, Saratoga, St. Lawrence, Warren and Washington counties in New York and extends to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont.
Participants outlined the project at a press conference at CVPH Medical Center, discussing the merits of the program and thanking government officials who helped secure the funding.
All gathered stressed that the fiber optic telecommunications system will improve health care quality, patient safety and maximize cost efficiencies at a time when health care must do more with less.
Lawmakers who played a key role in gaining funding for the project included Congressman Bill Owens, Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey.
The Research Foundation of the State University of New York is the legal entity that administered the FCC program for the Rural Health Care Pilot Program contract of $8,998,004, awarded to ACTION. They were assisted in this effort by the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization.
CVPH Medical Center is the lead eligible provider for the FCC Rural Health Care Pilot Program and SUNY serves as the fiscal administrator.
Plattsburgh State provides that link to SUNY’s Research Foundation, a private, nonprofit educational corporation that administers externally funded contracts and grants for and on behalf of SUNY campuses.
The Development Corporation of the North Country will utilize multiple local service provider networks to connect ACTION member locations throughout the region.
“This will allow for the continuity of care throughout any of these facilities, regardless of where the patient finds him or herself,” Hooper said. “The ability of these hospitals to share information through the secured network helps improve healthcare quality by ensuring the availability of a patient’s EMR, test results, x-rays, CT scans, etc. to physicians at these facilities. It also helps to maximize cost effectiveness by ensuring that tests are not duplicated, and that all doctors have access to the same information.”