"Regional telehealth networks will help make Ohio healthier by propelling the adoption of new technology and ways to exchange health information", stated Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. "My Broadband Ohio plan aims to create sufficient broadband capacity throughout Ohio to ensure that all communities and all Ohioans can benefit from initiatives such as this. I am proud of the work that the Ohio Supercomputer Center is doing to make this all a reality."
These four regional telehealth networks will connect to Broadband Ohio's backbone to transport data traffic between regions in Ohio, as well as to use OSCnet to access Internet2, the primary national research and education network in the country. This fulfills a key requirement of the grant - that the health care traffic be able to flow across the country from Ohio.
"As a direct result of the prior investments in OSCnet to establish a statewide backbone, nearly all the monies from these grants can be used to provide last-mile connectivity for hospitals, clinics, centres, etc.", stated Stanley Ahalt, executive director of the Ohio Supercomputer Center.
"If we can work closely with the grantees in the deployment of last-mile connections, the state should be able to leverage the Ohio connections for productive purposes beyond health care. The FCC grant specifically allows for these additional uses so that the regional telehealth networks become self-sufficient and sustainable. This could significantly expedite Governor Strickland's Broadband Ohio plan to deploy high-speed connections to every county."
The four projects involving OSCnet consist of:
- The Southern Ohio Healthcare Network, which will receive $13,9 million to provide connectivity to about 60 facilities by building or purchasing fiber-optic rings, as well as to provide connectivity to facilities outside the reach of the rings. This regional network will impact 15 Ohio counties: Adams, Athens, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton and Washington.
- The Northeast Ohio Regional Health Information Organization, which will receive $11,3 million to expand and upgrade an existing network to connect approximately 19 medical facilities. This regional network will impact 22 Ohio counties: Ashland, Ashtabula, Carrolton, Columbiana, Coshocton, Cuyahoga, Erie, Geauga, Holmes, Huron, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Sandusky, Seneca, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas and Wayne.
- A consortium of eight health care facilities in southeastern Ohio, Holzer Consolidated Health Systems, which will receive $1,8 million to upgrade its existing network to a broadband fiber-optic network. This regional network will initially impact Ohio's Gallia and Jackson Counties. Eventually, through a collaborative relationship with the Appalachian Regional Informatics Consortium - Electronic Data Interchange project, the Holzer network plans to expand to facilities in West Virginia's Wood County and eight additional Ohio counties: Athens, Fairfield, Guernsey, Hocking, Muskingum, Ross, Scioto and Washington.
- The statewide West Virginia Telehealth Alliance, which will receive $8,4 million to connect approximately 450 West Virginia health care facilities, reaching Internet2 through OSCnet connections to Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.