Michigan was awarded the 4th largest amount of funding nationwide by the FCC as a part of their Rural Health Care Pilot Project. The Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI) and the Michigan Departments of Community Health and Information Technology submitted Michigan’s proposal to the FCC earlier this year.
“This initiative will improve the quality of care in rural areas while saving rural residents substantial travel costs when smaller hospitals and clinics are unable to perform necessary medical services,” said Granholm. “This is another step we are taking to ensure that our health care industry uses technology to vastly improve the system, reduce costs, and protect our privacy.”
This award allows Michigan to offer competitive bids to the private sector to extend high speed broadband internet to health care providers in underserved areas of the state. The new network infrastructure will connect existing state health networks to each other and Internet2 at speeds ranging from 1.5 Mbps to 100 Mbps.
Funding will first be allocated to increase broadband availability and affordability in rural clinics and small hospitals. Then funding will increase the amount of bandwidth to regional and referral hospitals so they can handle the increase in telehealth traffic. For example, a single MRI can require many megabytes of bandwidth, which is currently not available at these facilities.
Rural health care providers will see their rates for access to high-speed broadband internet reduced to be competitive with the cost in urban areas. The cost for high speed internet in rural areas is typically more expensive than in urban areas.
Granholm thanked members of the Michigan congressional delegation for their support. “This award is the result of a bipartisan effort, and I applaud the members of the Michigan congressional delegation for their work to make this happen,” said Granholm. “Without the support of Senators Stabenow and Levin, and Representatives Stupak, Dingell, Upton, Miller, Ehlers, Walberg, Kildee, Camp and Hoekstra, this would not be possible.”
“As co-chair of the Senate Health Care Quality and Information Technology Caucus, I have fought to make sure doctors and hospitals, regardless of where they are located, have information technology to improve their patients’ care,” said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. “Over the years, I have seen the tremendous benefits of telehealth. This funding is an investment in our state’s ability to provide high-quality and affordable health care to every region of Michigan.”
“This funding will help Michigan provide the high-quality health care services that millions of rural citizens depend on,” said U.S. Senator Carl Levin. “Expanding broadband technology is a win-win situation, bringing rural residents closer to the care they need and helping providers serve their patients more efficiently.”
“I commend the FCC for choosing Michigan as one of the awardees for the Rural Health Care Pilot Project, which will provide Michigan with the opportunity to continue to develop and strengthen health information exchange within the state,” said U.S. Congressman John Dingell. “I would also like to acknowledge the leadership of Governor Granholm; because of her hard work and dedication, both Michigan residents and rural health care providers will benefit from reduced healthcare costs and broadband internet rates.”
In her 2006 State of the State address, Governor Granholm announced the Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN). She charged the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) and the Michigan Department of Information Technology (MDIT) with bringing together Michigan’s healthcare and business stakeholders to develop a vision and plan for the future of health information technology and exchange in Michigan.