The WNY RBHN is a consortium of partners in NY and surrounding regions which focuses on increasing broadband access among rural non-profit health care providers. We do this through the Healthcare Connect Fund, a 65% FCC subsidy on broadband services.
To significantly increase access to acute, primary, and preventive health care in rural America, the Federal Communications Commission through the Rural Health Care Pilot Program (RHCPP) had dedicated over $417 million for the construction of 69 statewide or regional broadband telehealth networks in 42 states and three U.S. territories. By providing up to 85% of the costs associated with design, engineering, and construction, the FCC Pilot award funded the creation and implementation of the Western New York Rural Broadband Healthcare Network (WNYRBHN).
The WNYRBHN is a consortium of partners in rural, urban, and medically underserved areas of WNY and surrounding regions, which focuses on increasing the utilization of Health Information Technology (HIT) among public and non-profit health care providers. Our ultimate goal is to bolster equitable health care across the WNY region by improving access to experienced specialty physicians and critical life-saving treatments, and by enhancing overall healthcare quality in the rural communities of Western New York. The connectivity of the major academic centers and urban and rural healthcare facilities in the region will also provide a platform for continuing education, executing clinical trials, measuring quality outcomes, and enhancing coordination of care.
The Healthcare Connect Fund
The WNYRBHN utilizes funding provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) through the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF), as well as matching and participatory funds as defined in the HCF Order and provided by the Partners and their member sites and organizations. The HCF Order can be found at the following URL: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-12-150A1_Rcd.pdf
Through the HCF, the WNYRBHN Consortium partners are eligible to receive support of up to 65% of the costs associated with the engineering and construction of their connectivity to the broadband healthcare network, as well as for monthly recurring charges stemming from the access and services related this connectivity. In order to ensure quality and efficiency, the WNYRBHN project must be competitively bid, and is subject to stringent oversight, reviews, and audits. The Consortium partners are responsible for the participatory funds as defined in the HCF Order.
Western New York Rural Area Health Education Center, Inc. (R-AHEC), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is the consortium leader for this project. Incorporated July 6, 1999, R-AHEC is headquartered in Warsaw, NY and serves the rural 12 county area of Western New York. R-AHEC focuses on pipeline programming for youth, continuing education through preceptor development and student housing, health workforce development (recruitment, retention, and continuing education), and rural health technology acquisition and development. With a mission to “improve health and health care”, R-AHEC is helping to assess and address the needs of the area by creating community partnerships in underserved areas where help is needed most. The WNYRBHN is one of R-AHEC’s many projects.