Charter Business customers in Wisconsin and Oregon today are receiving benefits from a pilot program for rural health care that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposes to make permanent and expand nationally in the years ahead.
A proposal introduced by the FCC last week would make permanent the Rural Health Care Pilot Program, currently set to expire next year, and expand broadband investment for medically underserved communities across the country. The expanded initiative would enable patients in rural areas to have access to state-of-the-art diagnostic tools typically available only at the largest and most sophisticated medical centers, a benefit enjoyed today under the current pilot program by Charter customers in rural Wisconsin and Oregon.
Through the Rural Health Care Pilot Program, Charter Business provides fiber-based broadband services to health care organizations in Wisconsin and Oregon. The program is designed to develop support for the deployment of a broadband nationwide health care network, focusing on rural areas of the country where support is needed the most. Through this pilot program, the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative ITN has deployed redundant servers for electronic health records, providing vital links for disaster preparedness and emergency response.
"We applaud Chairman Julius Genachowski and the FCC for their efforts to boost the growth of Internet services in the United States through the National Broadband Plan, and we look forward to working with the Commission as it considers ways to extend and enlarge the current pilot program," said Mike Lovett, Charter President and Chief Executive Officer. "The deployment and adoption of broadband can be especially effective through cooperative initiatives and a spirit of public-private partnership. Charter is eager to continue our work with the FCC to maximize both the deployment and adoption of broadband technology and services."
"The Rural Health Care Pilot Program has helped reduce the costs to Critical Access Hospitals while at the same time allowing them to deploy additional critical components for an Electronic Health Record. Charter Business has provided us highly available, high-speed connections that allow the Electronic Health Record servers to replicate their data in almost real time, without the need for the servers to be located in the same building," said Louis Wenzlow, Chief Information Officer of Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative ITN.
The FCC on July 15 proposed rules to enable the FCC to spend up to $400 million annually from a portion of the federal Universal Service Fund that it administers. According to the FCC, the new funding would bring affordable broadband connectivity to more than 2,000 rural hospitals and clinics. Approval of new rules is subject to a public comment period and further action by the FCC. The effort to enhance the pilot program is among the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan, released by the FCC in March 2010.
"This Health Connect program builds on the foundation of the existing rural health care program and the many lessons learned from recent pilots to extend infrastructure in rural America, like the Iowa Health System, California Telehealth Network, Oregon Health Network, Health Information Exchange of Montana, and the West Virginia Telehealth Alliance," according to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. "The program’s investment in broadband connectivity would not only improve care, but also help to significantly reduce health-care costs – potentially saving billions of dollars. It would spur private investment in networks as well as innovative health-related applications, and would create jobs that range from building infrastructure to developing and implementing health IT solutions."
More information about the Federal Communications Commission and the National Broadband Plan can be found on the Commission’s website, www.fcc.gov.
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About Charter Business
Charter Business® provides business organizations with scalable, tailored, and cost-effective broadband communications solutions, including business-to-business Internet access, data networking, business telephone, video and music entertainment services and wireless backhaul. Catering to the unique broadband needs of business customers, Charter Business offers competitively priced bundled products over its state-of-the-art, fiber-based network, helping businesses in a variety of industries maximize efficiency while continuing to grow. Charter Business is Metro Ethernet Forum Certified. More information about Charter Business can be found at www.charter-business.com.
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