The University of California, in partnership with a coalition of government agencies, health-care providers and others, received a three-year, $22 million award from the Federal Communications Commission to help develop a new California Telehealth Network. The grant is part of the FCC's Rural Health Care Support Mechanism.
The University of California Office of the President and UC Davis Health System will co-manage the project for the coalition that includes the Office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; California Public Utilities Commission; California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency; and the California Health and Human Services Agency. Participants also include the California State Rural Health Association, rural health networks and coalitions, the California Hospital Association, and other health-care providers and partners.
Up to an additional $8.6 million has been secured from the California Emerging Technology Fund and United Healthcare Group, Inc.
The California Telehealth Network will eventually connect more than 300 rural sites with each other, and with a network of specialty providers at academic medical centers and other nonprofit and for-profit health providers statewide. It will improve access within rural and underserved areas to high quality, collaborative health services and make new networking capability available for more California health providers. In addition, the network will be developed for use as a resource for emergency services and disaster preparedness.
The FCC funding builds upon recent initiatives in California aimed at developing a statewide approach to telehealth. Those efforts include executive orders directing state resources to promote broadband access and increase use of health information technology and the 2006 voter approval of Proposition 1D, an education bond providing the University of California with $200 million for infrastructure to expand medical school enrollment and build and enhance telemedicine statewide.
UC Davis Health System Executive Associate Dean Thomas Nesbitt, who founded the institution's telehealth program, will co-direct the project with Cathryn Nation, UC associate vice president for Health Sciences.