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California Model e-Health Community Awards announced

Connecting to Care, Sierra-Nevada Model eHealth Cancer Community

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By: UC Davis

SACRAMENTO, Calif. August 18, 2011 — UC Davis Health System and the California Telehealth Network (CTN) today announced more than $5 million in awards to 15 community groups across California to advance health using telecommunications technologies and help provide examples of eHealth activity for other communities to follow.

The Broadband Adoption Model eHealth Communities Awards are designed to assist California communities in becoming best-practice examples in the use and integration of technology to improve health and health care for local residents. The communities were identified through a rigorous selection process that required each applicant to meet certain criteria and demonstrate collaborative ideas and activities to help address complex health-delivery issues. The funds will be used to acquire eHealth technologies and telehealth equipment to connect with the broadband system that CTN is now establishing around the state.

The awardees span 26 counties in rural, urban and suburban regions, as well areas in Northern, Central and Southern California, a few of which are considered so remote that they are termed "frontier" regions. Special consideration was given to applicants who addressed the needs of vulnerable populations, including residents of medically underserved regions, older adults, at-risk youth and children.

The awardees represent a spectrum of local organizations in specific regions and include rural and urban clinics and hospitals, libraries, county public health departments, mental health departments, public libraries, community colleges, universities, senior housing, low-income housing, and Indian Health programs, among others. Plans are under way to adopt such diverse eHealth applications as remote specialty and critical care consultations, telemedicine health management, consumer-health education, continuing education, and health-care workforce development.

"We are excited to partner with these model communities as they develop and implement innovations in telecommunications that will help our state respond to complex and highly challenging health issues," said Jana Katz-Bell, assistant dean for interprofessional programs at UC Davis School of Medicine and at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing in Sacramento, and director of the new eHealth project. "These 15 community groups will pioneer new approaches in health care that will create pathways for others to follow and help our state advance health for all."

The Model eHealth Communities project and a related eHealth broadband adoption training program are funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, with matching funds from the California HealthCare Foundation, National Coalition for Health Integration, University of California, and United Healthcare. Each awardee will receive an average of $300,000 worth of telehealth equipment that will be distributed to community sites. In addition, awardees will receive $50,000 to hire eHealth trainer/project managers to guide each of the 15 programs.

For health providers serving California's remote regions and other medically underserved communities, the Model eHealth program offers much needed advantages and opportunities.

"This award brings tremendous benefits for a hospital like ours," said Wanda Grove, administrator for Modoc County's Surprise Valley Community Hospital, located in a remote part of Northeastern California and considered to be the smallest hospital in the state. "It will enable us to expand and enhance our existing technologies in ways that complement everything from electronic medical records to distance learning."

Grove, whose hospital will receive its telehealth equipment through the nonprofit organization Connecting to Care, added: "Without good and secure telemedicine connections, residents here have to travel a minimum of 3.5 hours to be seen by a specialist. If others can learn from our eHealth efforts here in Cedarville, then this award will benefit not only local resident but people around the state."

Urban areas, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, are also among the Model eHealth Community awardees.

"This grant could not be more timely," said Sajid Ahmed, Director of Health IT and Innovation at L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation's largest public health plan serving over 900,000 Los Angeles County residents through free or low-cost health insurance programs. "The much-needed equipment that we'll receive will assist L.A. Care's Safety Net eConsult Program and support nine partner organizations to promote and enable coordinated care."

The California Telehealth Network is deploying a statewide broadband network dedicated to expanding and improving health care delivery in rural and medically underserved communities throughout California. The network is in the process of connecting more than 800 California health-care providers across the State and continues to accept applications for participation. The new network will help form the basis for a technology-enabled health-care system, and each Model eHealth Community includes at least three CTN provider sites.

"The Model Communities will help demonstrate what technology-enabled health-care delivery is all about," said Eric Brown, president of the Sacramento-based telehealth network. "CTN provides the secure digital highway that will leverage these new medical technologies, allowing activities like video consultations and health information exchange to occur over secure broadband connections."

Coinciding with the Model eHealth Community awards is the launch of an online training curriculum specifically designed to support the transition to technology-enabled health and health care. The new online program, accessed through the eHealth Broadband Adoption Training website (http://ehealthtraining.extensiondlc.net/), offers courses in the following areas: California Telehealth Network Orientation, Broadband Adoption, Telehealth, Consumer and Clinical Health Informatics, Electronic Health Records/ Health Information Exchange Adoption, and Change Management. Consumers also will benefit from the training program because its educational materials will be available in public libraries, community colleges and at local extension centers.

MODEL eHEALTH COMMUNITY AWARDS

Alameda County Health Services Agency, Model eHealth Community (Alameda County)
Access El Dorado (ACCEL) (El Dorado County)
California Rural Indian Health Board Model eHealth Community (multiple rural Indian Health clinics throughout California)
College of the Siskiyous, Siskiyous eHealth Collaborative (Siskiyou, Lassen and Shasta counties)
Community Hospital of San Bernardino, Model eHealth Community Project (San Bernardino County)
Connecting to Care, Modoc County Model eHealth Community (Modoc County)
Connecting to Care, Sierra-Nevada Model eHealth Cancer Community (Sierra, Nevada and Plumas counties)
Center for Technology Innovation & Wellbeing, Model eHealth Community for the Aging - Southern California (Los Angeles)
LA Care Health Plan, LA Model eHealth Community (Los Angeles)
North Coast Clinics Network, Model eHealth Community (Humboldt County)
Plumas District Hospital, Model eHealth Community (Plumas County)
Redwood MedNet, Model eHealth Community - North Coast (Humboldt, Mendocino, and Sonoma counties)
Southern Sierra Telehealth Network Community (Inyo, Kern and Mono counties)
UC San Francisco, San Francisco Model eHealth Community (City of San Francisco)
Venice Family Clinic Model eHealth Community (Los Angeles)

The California Telehealth Network (CTN) is the product of an unprecedented statewide coalition of health-care, technology, government and other stakeholders that drafted a proposal in spring 2007 to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Under the FCC's Rural Health Care Pilot Program -- with the goal of significantly increasing access to acute, primary and preventive health care in rural America -- the FCC will provide California with up to $22.1 million in funding through 2016. Additional funds for the CTN have been provided by the California Emerging Technology Fund, and UnitedHealth/PacifiCare. The CTN project intends to leverage and build upon California's historic and recent investments in telehealth. It will connect over 800 California healthcare providers in underserved areas to a state- and nation-wide broadband network dedicated to health care. For information, please visit http://www.caltelehealth.org/

 

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