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California Lauches Telehealth Network!

Last Tuesday, Governor Schwarzenegger was joined by U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra to launch the California Telehealth Network, the nation’s largest telemedicine system. Housed in the newly built 52,000 sq. ft. facility at UC Davis, the network will use internet broadband to link patients and physicians to hundreds of hospitals and clinics in rural and underserved areas in California, including physicians at five UC hospitals.

What is the Telehealth Network?

The Telehealth Network will visually and audibly connect small hospitals and clinics to a system of specialists hundreds of miles away. It will allow physicians in real-time to examine patients, review x-rays, evaluate diagnostic tests, provide advice on procedures, and write prescriptions for needed drugs. Additionally, the state has dedicated a broadband stream separate from mainstream internet solely to speed this health care information.

How is It Funded?

Passed in 2006, Proposition 1D paved the way for this Network by providing $200 million to begin building the state’s telemedicine capacity. 1D generated a pilot project which has been running since 2007, resulting in 25,000 successful video consultations. The rest of the funding comes from a $21 million grant by the Federal Communications Commission Broadband Initiative and $3.6 million from the California Emerging Technology Fund.

What Will Its Impact Be?

This innovative way of facilitating care is expected to lower medical costs and improve clinical outcomes. It will also significantly reduce wait times to see specialists, which sometimes takes up to a year or more in rural and remote areas. The Network will expand to more than 50 cites starting next month, and by 2011, the network is expected to link almost 900 health care facilities across the state.

21st Century, here we come!