Monday, August 24, 2009

Broadband Stimulus Round I Applicants: Alliance of 70 Hospitals Seeks Recovery Act Grant for Critical Links Project

National Medical Wireless Broadband Alliance Press Release via 08/24/09 -WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Medical Wireless Broadband Alliance filed, on Thursday August 20, a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) proposal for the Critical Links Project, an open access, middle mile infrastructure to bring broadband connectivity to 70 member hospitals in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.

The Alliance's members came together to solve an unmet need for technology neutral, open innovation platforms that enable any wireless device within each hospital to access existing wireless networks. The Critical Links Project is designed to fill this middle mile gap for hospitals, allowing wireless access at the point of care and bringing much-needed 21st century bandwidth, speed and interconnectivity to health IT systems.

To this end, the Alliance submitted a BTOP Broadband Infrastructure grant application to the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Under the Recovery Act, NTIA is administering a grant program to make $4.7 billion available to support deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas and to encourage sustainable broadband adoption.

The Project seeks to meet high priority objectives of the Act by facilitating a modern technology infrastructure in the health care community, promoting job creation, meeting needs of underserved areas and improving access to, and use of, broadband service by public safety. Critical Links will improve patient care by deploying a unified in-building wireless network that extends each Member Hospital's information system and promoting development of innovative wireless medical applications.

"The drive behind the Critical Links Project is to provide our Member Hospitals with an open innovation platform that, by improving wireless broadband access, enhances health care delivery, fosters the use of advanced technology and empowers patients," said Alliance Chairman John Clarey.

The Critical Links Project's technology-neutral, open wireless infrastructure provides Member Hospitals with a much-needed middle mile link, facilitating life-saving and cost-saving wireless medical applications range from Electronic Health Records and Health Information Exchanges to telemedicine, wireless telemetry and billing systems, ePrescriptions, and wireless viewing of x-rays and MRIs.

"To use these health IT tools, many hospitals require but do not have a critical missing ingredient -- an open access, technology neutral middle mile link," said Alliance President Steve Solomon. "The Critical Links Project will have a multiplier effect, empowering patients through enhanced information, promoting telemedicine and creating a technology baseline to provide information needed by physicians for informed decisions in real-time."

Often in hospitals, closed wireless broadband systems are based on proprietary networks, meaning medical professionals without compatible devices are locked out of in-building networks, which operate at less than optimal speeds and have limited interconnectivity. In many health care facilities, there is a gap in wireless broadband adoption within hospitals and a lack of connectivity between hospitals.

The Critical Links Project offers a sustainable and scalable solution by installing technology-neutral, open "Distributed Antenna Systems" in each Member Hospital that provide unified in-building wireless connectivity. These systems provide multiple broadband links to outside networks through over-the-air signals.
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