Health care facilities in northern New York and the hospital in Burlington will share a new fiber network for telemedicine and telehealth services starting January first.
"It is going to allow us to improve the care, improve safety and maximize cost efficiency," said CVPH's Stephens Mundy. "So many times tests are done over here and when the patient goes across the lake and the physician wants to access the results it is difficult at times and they get repeated."
The Adirondack-Champlain Telemedicine Information Network, called ACTION, has been in the works for five years. Almost 9 million dollars in grant money was secured to pay for the project which covers eight counties in New York and Fletcher Allen Health Care. It will link eight hospitals in the region, plus 40 primary care facilities and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Health Services.
"Although the ACTION network started out as a technology project to connect hospitals and medical centers, its real success will come when we leverage the network to more easily share patient information, reduce duplicate medical testing and have greater collaboration on patient care," said Joel Benware with the Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, NY.
Patient records and information is being sent between hospitals over the Internet, but that can take a lot of time depending on Internet traffic.
"What that really means is the trauma patient who has been seen at the ER at Interlakes, whose images are on their way to FAHC while the patient was in transfer, were competing with Youtube, are now on a dedicated reliable high speed network," said Fletcher Allen's Dan Davis.
Davis used this example -- a trauma head CT scan can take as long as 45 minutes to send across a secured Internet connection. With the new connection it will take only 15 minutes. This also allows patients to stay in one hospital and been seen by a physician located in another hospital in the system -- no travel involved.
"These days information is massive in both amount and speed with which you need to push it, so it will allow us to seamlessly integrate that data which is so critical for patient care. It's exciting to be a part of it," said Fletcher Allen's Adam Buckley.
The ACTION grant will cover the next four years. After that it with be up to participants in the network to figure out funding alternatives and strategies.
NY Congressman Bill Owens, State Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey all played a role in getting funding for the project.
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