February 1, 2012
The IRHN is a not-for profit corporation of health care providers who have come together to deploy and maintain a high-speed network to connect rural hospitals and health care clinics in Illinois.
More than 80 rural health care entities are being linked to each other and to urban medical centers, allowing the transmission of electro-cardiograms, CT scanner files, digital mammography files, and other diagnostic information that will facilitate consultation with specialists, faster medical treatment, and a reduced need to transport elderly citizens to distant hospitals.
Most of the hospitals currently working with the IRHN utilize T-1 circuits for data connectivity. T-1 circuits allow for 1.5 Mbps. The IRHN will provide a minimum of 100 Mbps upstream and downstream, and can provide 1 Gigabit/second.
The G4S Technology contract will provide construction services to connect hospitals and clinics to existing backbone fiber routes. These lateral construction builds are being deployed across the state of Illinois to provide the ‘last mile’ connection. Bob Sommerfeld, President of G4S Technology LLC, said: “G4S Technology is thrilled to be able to work with the IRHN and to be a part of constructing this network that will provide Illinois healthcare facilities the ability to access advanced medical care.”
The NIU Broadband Development Group, a university unit that specializes in planning, implementing and optimizing broadband connectivity projects for municipalities and other large organizations, first conceived the state-wide network idea.
“The IRHN network will speed the deployment of advanced medical technologies and vastly improve patient care and physician communication,” said Alan Kraus, Director of the NIU Broadband Development Group.
Almost three years in the planning, the IRHN has utilized the Broadband Development Group to handle the functions necessary to make the project a reality. Funding for the initial network of more than 80 locations is being provided primarily by the Federal Communications Commission, through its Rural Health Care Pilot Program.
Via the pilot program, 85 percent of the initial cost--$21 million--is being used to link rural health care facilities with fiber optic cable and point-to-point wireless. The IRHN is providing the required 15 percent match of $3 million, generously provided by the State of Illinois.