The California Telehealth Network (CTN), a groundbreaking initiative of broadband-connected health-care sites launched in large part by the University of California Office of the President and UC Davis Health System, has formally become an independent, not-for-profit organization. The transition took place this month after the CTN's board of directors voted to approve the operational change. The network began in 2007 when the Federal Communications Commission provided the university with a $23 million grant to create a secure, medical-grade telecommunications system to improve health-care access in rural and other underserved communities around California.
"We are very proud of the California Telehealth Network's development and success," said John Stobo, senior vice president for health sciences and services at the UC Office of the President. "The UC Davis team did a remarkable job handling some of the complex logistics required to design a system of this size and scope. UC's vision for a vibrant, interconnected network of clinical providers is now mature enough to thrive as an independent organization as it prepares to support the delivery of care for those who need it the most."
The University of California played a key role in authoring the original proposal to the FCC's Rural Health Care Pilot Program and guiding the program through its initial development stages. Now, with 300 participating providers enrolled and gearing up to provide services via a secure, high-speed internet connection, the new network is poised to become the nation's largest health-related broadband entity of its kind.
"Establishing a dedicated broadband network for health care is the tipping point for the digital health highway in California," said Thomas Nesbitt, UC Davis associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances. "The California Telehealth Network links health-care providers so they can provide access and quality care for patients at the right time, in the right place, to those who have lacked good access to specialty care for far too long."
The network's participating sites will create a fully integrated health-care delivery system composed of interconnected hospitals, clinics, physician offices, health departments, schools and others locations. The CTN builds upon state policies and investments related to broadband connectivity and telehealth, including executive orders that directed state resources to promote broadband access and increase the use of health information technology.
"UC Davis Health System began using telehealth nearly 20 years ago because it is a highly effective way to deliver care to underserved communities," said Nesbitt, who was one of the key leaders in shaping the new network. "By having an independent telehealth network, the CTN team can build the most effective broadband system for health care in the nation."
The California Telehealth Network is the FCC's largest single-state grant award of its kind. Additional funding came from stakeholders including the California Emerging Technology Fund, California Teleconnect Fund (administered by the California Public Utilities Commission), California Healthcare Foundation, United Health/Pacificare, National Coalition for Health Integration, and the University of California's Proposition 1D funding for medical education and telemedicine equipment.
The network also benefits from a U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunities grant to UC Davis Health System, which created the innovative Model eHealth Communities program to provide local clinics and other community anchor institutions with successful examples of technology-enabled health care around the state.
"We will always be grateful to the University of California for the leadership it has shown in incubating our network and enabling it to become state-of-the-art," said Eric Brown, CTN's president and CEO. "With the completion of this important transition, we have the opportunity to leverage innovation and financial resources from other organizations and foundations to help us achieve the long-term goal of using broadband technology to enhance access to health care for all Californians."
UC Davis Health System is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education and creating dynamic, productive community partnerships. The academic health system includes one of the country's best medical schools, a 631-bed acute-care teaching hospital, an 800-member physician's practice group and the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. It is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, an international neurodevelopmental institute, a stem cell institute and a comprehensive children's hospital. Other nationally prominent centers focus on advancing telemedicine, improving vascular care, facilitating health policy changes, eliminating health disparities and translating research findings into new treatments for patients. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For more information, visit www.healthsystem.ucdavis.edu.