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New England Telehealth Consortium Continues to Connect

July 26, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Maine-based New England Telehealth Consortium (NETC), which is working to link more than 400 healthcare facilities in northern New England to a telecommunications network, recently announced its 125th connection.

Connecting the 125th healthcare site to the NETC network is a testament to years of planning, designing, and building," Jim Rogers, the founder of NETC and President of ProInfoNet, the company managing the implementation of the NETC network, said in a statement. "From satellites enabling mobile health vans to serve rural Maine to crystal clear long-distance consultations for surgery, NETC is powering a cost-savings healthcare revolution."

NETC is a regional group of rural and urban healthcare members, formed in response to the Federal Communications Commissions' Rural Health Care Pilot Program of the Telecom Act of 1996. The Act dedicated funding for aiding rural hospitals, clinics, and physicians through advanced telecommunications. Now, healthcare facilities linking to NETC's network are instantly sharing potentially life-saving information and stand to save millions of dollars in annual technology costs.

Charlotte, N.C.-based FairPoint Communications is the largest vendor partner in NETC. Since 2008, FairPoint has invested more than $193 million in the communications infrastructure and technology in northern New England. This investment positions FairPoint  to serve the technology needs of NETC through its extensive ‘enterprise class’ network with more than 15,000 miles of fiber offering IP/Ethernet services across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, FairPoint officials said.

NETC has increased access to the most rural regions of New England by furnishing mobile clinics with satellite technology. Vans equipped with video conferencing, prescription dispensing and electronic health records are enabling the Maine Migrant Health Program to care for workers harvesting crops in Maine’s rural Washington County.

Along with greater access, NETC is delivering greater savings. "We transitioned from T1s to NETC and reduced our costs by 75 percent," Robin Winslow, CEO of Sebasticook Family Doctors based in Newport, Maine, said in a statement. "We reduced redundancies, identified inefficiencies, and increased our speed. And our savings will help us to ramp up to keep compliant with healthcare regulations and data reporting."

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