People living in eight counties in upstate New York will soon have access to specialists without having to leave their homes, thanks to the North Country Telemedicine Project, a fiber optic network that is being set up to link residents of rural, underserved areas with medical treatment.
Telemedicine, a relatively new way to provide care, allows healthcare professionals to interact remotely with other doctors and patients over tablets, smartphones and PCs.
Approximately 600,000 people will be served by the network, which will connect medical sites so doctors can share notes on patients and collaborate. Once complete, the project will provide consultative and specialty care through electronic medical record (EMR) and telemedicine applications, increasing access to specialty healthcare for the residents throughout this region.
Fiber optic networks allow data and voice applications to be used in rural areas where the nearest specialist might be hundreds of miles away. Tech Valley Communications (TVC), which is constructing the network, has laid down 6400 fiber miles to get it up and running
The project, called ACTION Network, will bring modern infrastructure to 48 medical facilities ranging from rural health clinics to regional hospitals in the northern-most areas of New York and when it’s done, allowing healthcare providers in the area to have access to EMRs, collaboration, advanced- imaging services and high-definition conferencing capabilities.
This next generation network will allow regional facilities to connect to each other as well as enable connections to regional or statewide Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs). These RHIOs offer physicians secure, electronic access to comprehensive patient health records containing information from a broad range of providers and sources.
What’s the real value? Lives are saved. With similar fiber optic networks across the country, heart attack victims and others suffering from medical crises, are being saved every day, according to a study, including rural diabetes patients who used a telemedicine-based endocrine consultation service for follow-up care, significantly improving health outcomes, and an at-home, telehealth-based stroke rehabilitation program which helped patients regain lower body function, according to a study published in the journal Stroke, UnitedPress International reports.
The telemedicine market is expected to triple to $27.3 billion in 2016, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.6 percent over the next five years, according to a report from BCC Research, as reported by Nicole Lewis.
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Edited by Juliana Kenny