Residents in Northeast Arkansas attended a free seminar to learn what the Arkansas e-Link statewide broadband network can do for them in health and education at Arkansas State University in Newport.
Arkansas e-Link, led by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), is using high-speed data transmission lines to connect 454 community institutions for videoconferencing. Among the 75 counties in the statewide network, e-Link will connect 87 sites in 14 counties in northeast Arkansas: Baxter, Clay, Cleburne, Craighead, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Mississippi, Poinsett, Randolph, Sharp and Stone. The higher education component will facilitate resource sharing, collaboration and research opportunities at two-year and four-year colleges in Arkansas.
The broadband network also will allow patients to consult in real time with medical specialists in other locations through interactive video so the patients can receive needed health care near their homes. Hometown medical providers will be able to collaborate with distant medical specialists to co-manage patient care so they don’t have to refer patients to distant hospitals or clinics.
Arkansas e-Link was created from a $102 million grant awarded in August 2010 to UAMS and partner institutions through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Comprehensive Community Infrastructure grant. With another $26 million in matching funds from partner institutions statewide, the project is integrating isolated community institutions to expand the capabilities and geographic reach of broadband networks serving Arkansas. About $8.16 million was spent for e-Link in the 14 northeast Arkansas counties.
“As we finish the building of the network, the Arkansas e-Link seminars will give us the opportunity to show the public the positive return on their investment.” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “The project will benefit residents in their daily lives through connections at their local hospital, public library, two-year college, emergency services, community health clinic, mental health clinic and other institutions within the network.”
At the Newport seminar, attendees will see demonstrations of how it all works, discover valuable resources, learn about multi-college faculty collaboration, share ideas about education technology and resources, observe virtual learning experiences for students, discover the enhancements offered to two-year colleges, learn the benefits of partnering, hear examples of successful telehealth programs and learn telehealth fundamentals.
“Through eLink, Arkansas’ two-year colleges will have high-speed broadband access that most other states don’t have,” said Ed Franklin, president of the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges. “This will increase our capacity to deliver educational services to students through multi-college collaboration and expanded course and program offerings. It will also improve our ability to meet the workforce training needs of existing business and industry, as well as attract new business and industry to the state.”
Besides improving patient care at institutions in the network, e-Link will enable the community partners to reduce the cost of travel by staff for the continuing medical education credits to maintain professional certifications and standards. E-link also will give health care providers another way to offer outreach for effective community health education.
“We are very excited about the outreach series and the chance to talk to the public about what a great communications resource e-Link is,” said Debbie Green, Arkansas e-Link project director. “We believe the public will be impressed by the wonderful opportunities the network provides to improve access to education and health throughout Arkansas.”
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 790 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com.