FCC awards $4.6M for Colorado health info network

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A consortium led by the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) will develop the Colorado Telehealth Network with an award from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enable the expansion of broadband communication to rural areas of the state.

The FCC award provides up to $4.6 million in federal funds over three years.  When combined with a similar FCC award to the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, $9.8 million will be made available for the initiative. In addition, a 15 percent match from participating healthcare providers will supplement the initiative, according to the consortium.

The FCC will cover 85 percent of the cost of building the network, including design and engineering, network hardware and installation of the network for public and not-for-profit hospitals and clinics.

The goals of the Colorado Telehealth Network initiative are threefold, the CHA said. One is to share the benefits of telemedicine access to primary and specialty care patients who normally would have to travel large distances to receive care. The second is to ensure that healthcare facilities are able to use available technologies and expand their efforts in the area of health IT. The third is the coordination of care in a public health emergency by allowing healthcare providers to share critical information.

The Colorado Health Foundation will provide support for the initiative, including funding of administrative support not covered by the FCC award, according to Anne Warhover, president and CEO of CHA.