The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) was awarded $102 million by the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) within the Department of Commerce to support a statewide $128-million broadband infrastructure to serve community institutions across Arkansas. This broadband expansion initiative, led by UAMS e-Link, helps to provide greater accessibility to telemedicine and education programs – particularly valuable to those living in rural, underserved areas.
Facilities received increased bandwidth and/or new equipment supporting the platform for new and enhanced community services at 400+ statewide locations. The state’s healthcare consumers, medical providers, and researchers have increased accessibility to real-time clinical consultations with remote specialists, virtual research collaboration and distance & continuing education.
UAMS e-Link is the network that currently supports popular programs such as Arkansas SAVES (for stroke victims), TRIUMPH (for patients with spinal cord injuries), ANGELS (high-risk obstetrics), Baptist Health eICU, Arkansas Heart Hospital (cardiology clinics), RSPMI (behavioral health), Continuing Education and more. In the near term, we will see school-based clinics, more prison programs, specialty healthcare and other programs as providers develop them. The creativity and passion throughout Arkansas will bring numerous services that will leverage UAMS e-Link.
The UAMS e-Link network and Arkansas Telehealth is expected to continue to even greater significance. In the spring of 2015, Arkansas Governor Hutchinson signed legislation to encourage the use of telemedicine and authorize reimbursement and regulation of services provided through telemedicine. The new law requires health plans to cover telemedicine-provided physician services and reimburse physicians only on the same basis as in-person services. The law’s parity provisions for reimbursement will go into effect January 1, 2016, for all non-Medicaid health benefit plans and July 1, 2016, for Arkansas Medicaid.
With 450+ statewide locations served, UAMS e‐Link will utilize increased bandwidth and new equipment to oﬀer the platform for new and enhanced community services. As a product of this grant‐funded initiative, the state’s publicly supported community college students will be able to enroll in distance education courses in collaboration with the state’s four‐year universities, use fiber‐grade Internet connections at computers on public college or university campuses, take or teach online courses and join in research or studies with other students and teachers across the state. The state’s medical patients, medical providers, and researchers will have increased accessibility to real‐time clinical consultations with remote specialists, electronic medical record exchange, virtual research collaboration and distance education. From community colleges to first responders, Arkansas e‐Link unifies a diverse group of community institutions to significantly improve the state’s broadband‐enabled services.
2014-2018 UAMS e-Link
In 2014, UAMS e-Link initiated a consortium application to the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program in an effort to reduce broadband costs to Arkansas e-Link members when BTOP (Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program) funding expired June 30, 2016. The HCF Program provides up to a 65 percent discount on eligible expenses related to broadband connectivity.
Currently, UAMS e-Link is in the process of releasing a new Request for Proposal for expanded connectivity which will include commodity internet, dedicated data circuits, sip voice services and wireless connectivity to members around the state.
UAMS e-Link serves as the lead entity for the consortia and is legally and financially responsible for activities supported by the HCF Program. As consortium leader, UAMS e-Link completes all the necessary paperwork and files all applications on behalf of it’s members.
BENEFITS OF BECOMING AN ARKANSAS E-LINK NETWORK MEMBER
- Video access to 1000+ endpoints, including 400+ hospitals, medical clinics, mental health facilities
- Maintenance of UAMS e-Link provided interactive video equipment
- The most up-to-date clinical assessment tools provided
- Interactive video utilization reporting available
- Access to state-of-the-art Interactive Video Training Center
- 24-7 customer support by our team of Video Network Specialists
- Opportunity to partner with hospital emergency rooms, medical clinics and behavioral health facilities and contract for specialized services
Key partner organizations:
- Arkansas Association of Two‐Year Colleges
- Arkansas Center for Health Improvement
- Arkansas Children’s Hospital
- Arkansas Department of Health
- Arkansas Department of Human Services
- Arkansas Department of Information Systems
- Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care
- Arkansas State Highway Commission
- Arkansas Telehealth Oversight & Management (ATOM)
- Arkansas Hospital Association
- Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network (ARE‐ON)
- Arkansas State Library
- Baptist Health
- Community Health Centers of Arkansas Connect Arkansas
- Delta Regional Authority
- HomeCare Association of Arkansas
- Mental Health Council of Arkansas
- Methodist Family Health
- Metropolitan Emergency Medical System
- Pathfinder, Inc.
- St. Vincent Health System
- The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences