This project will convene the technical and operational leaders of the multiple networks providing telehealth services in a multi-state region to identify challenges to, a research plan for, and reach agreement on interoperability of service delivery among those various networks. The ability to reach agreement on infrastructure, capabilities, tools, standards, interoperability specifications, and systems architecture will result in more efficient use of resources, allowing for improved quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of healthcare in the region. Networks expressing a desire to participate in this event are operating in the following states: 7 Arizona 7 Colorado 7 Idaho 7 Montana 7 Nebraska 7 New Mexico 7 Utah 7 Wyoming Additionally, the Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center (NRTRC) has agreed to support the effort and help with dissemination of project results. The NRTRC covers the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming with a membership of 32 telehealth networks.
Telehealth is a rapidly growing means of extending clinical healthcare services to rural and frontier areas. Telehealth networks are developing and expanding into new markets and areas. As this growth occurs, telehealth networks across the nation face issues of interoperability and standards. There is no dispute that standards and interoperability are typically needed for technology markets to grow, not withstanding a single company winning a commanding leadership position. But today, no company wields dominant market power in personal connected health. Efforts by Continue Health Alliance, for instance, to foster economic-type behavior among device and software makers has made progress, but for now, proprietary and disparate technologies and platforms rule. The first generations of installed devices and applications do not easily integrate with each other.1 The Wyoming Health Information Organization (WyHIO) and its partners believe telehealth is an effective mechanism to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of healthcare in rural and frontier areas. Wyoming. Interoperability is key to providing the reliable and seamless delivery of telehealth services, and this effort will provide options to further interoperability among various telehealth networks. The WyHIO is teaming with the multiple telehealth networks in the Rocky Mountain Region and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments of the University of Wyoming, College of Engineering and Applied Science to work on the technical and adoption aspects of interoperability. Funding from the AHRQ Small Grant Program for Conference Support would allow us to accomplish several objectives that appear consistent with the purpose of the AHRQ grant. Specifically, we would use grant funds for the following: 1. Bring together technical and operating staff from telehealth networks in the region, University of Wyoming (UW) faculty and students, and other key telehealth stakeholders to identify the challenges to interoperability and seamless delivery of clinical telemedicine services;2. Exchange and prioritize ideas about how we accomplish interoperability;3. Define a research agenda for the UW as they develop a draft interoperable telehealth network design;4. With the draft design, reconvene the telehealth stakeholders, and the UW faculty and graduate students to review the interoperability design and adopt recommendations;5. Disseminate the results of this effort to stakeholders and other members of the telehealth community using the resources of the Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center (NRTRC) and other Telehealth Resource Centers. The Principal Investigator for this project is the WyHIO Executive Director, Larry Biggio. Larry has extensive in technology, finance, and administration, and has successfully organized and conducted other HIT and telecommunications meetings similar to this project. Suresh Muknahallipatna, Ph.D. will participate in the conference and lead the network interoperability design efforts at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Muknahallipatna is a professor in Department of Electrical &Computer Engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Muknahallipatna will also lead the technical efforts to design an interoperable telehealth network. He will be joined by Professors Cameron Wright and Jerry Hamann, also of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, who will assist with scoping the project and participating in the project conferences. The project budget totals $45,002.00 of federal funds. 1 Michael Gallelli, Boomer, Technology, and Health: Consumers Taking Charge, MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest, www.mitwa.org/sites/default/files/files/MITEF%20NW%20Boomers%20Technology%20and%20Health%20Report.pdf