Empire State Development approves $550,000 grant to improve health care telecommunication in North Country
Monday, January 21, 2013 - 2:11 pm

Empire State Development’s Board of Directors approved a $550,000 grant to help North Country health care providers improve their shared telecommunications network.

The Research Foundation of The State University of New York will use a grant of up to $550,000 to support the cost of a shared telecommunications network on behalf the Adirondack – Champlain Telemedicine Information Network (ACTION), a consortium of 49 health care facilities, including eight hospitals, 40 clinics/health care service providers, and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Health Services.

ACTION member organizations employ over 14,000 individuals and provide health care services to more than 460,000 individuals in northern New York State.

The project includes construction of a long term leased fiber/Ethernet services network for ACTION in order to provide public internet access and high speed connectivity among member facilities, improve data sharing and reduce costs. The $550,000 will be used to support network construction costs, including engineering, installation of fiber optics and switching equipment and project management costs such as oversight of network construction and lease agreements providing connectivity and network services.

Prior to the network, members would have to use the public internet and a virtual private network connection to conduct secure connections between health care facilities. Public access to the internet limits both speed and security. The new network provides the project area communities greater access to quality, healthcare services, including primary care practitioners, urgent care facilities and specialized healthcare providers. ACTION member organizations are able to consult with peers and specialists on health care issues quickly and reliably, and share patient records, which can be crucial in emergency situations (i.e., stroke, cardiac arrest, etc.).

The network also provides members with newer technologies such as voice and fax over internet protocol, which allows voice and fax traffic to travel between member facilities at no cost. The network provides clear connections for video teleconferencing anywhere a wireless internet protocol connection is available at a member location, and enables users to pool services, such as back up and data management systems, thereby offering further cost savings.

Construction of the network began in the summer 2011 and as of December 2012, eight hospitals and 40 heath care clinics/service providers have been brought online and are active network users. The project is expected to be completed in February 2013. The total project cost is $9.1 million.