In 2010, MCNC collaborated with DIT to provide Intranet backbone, Internet access services, and Internet2 access service for the North Carolina Telehealth Network (NCTN). The NCTN leverages both the DIT backbone network and the existing NCREN.
The NCTN under the Rural Health Care Pilot Program had three phases.
NCTN- Public Health (PH)
NCTN-Public Health (PH) connected public health facilities, and free health care clinics to the NCTN backbone, along with a few community health centers.
NCTN-Hospital (H) connected non-profit hospitals (mostly non-profits) to the NCTN backbone.
NCTN – Extension (EX)
The NCTN continued to connect both Public Health and Hospital sites to the NCTN backbone through the extension of the Pilot Program.
NCTN – HCF
The NCTN started connecting both new Public Health and Hospital sites as well as renewing existing sites under the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) permanent program established in December of 2012.
The NCTN under RHCPP and HCF is an opt-in programs.
One incentive to adopt NCTN connectivity is to the access to federal funds from the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) that reimburses a portion of the NCTN connection for the institution (PH or H). The NCTN also is designed to offer more bandwidth, better reliability, and lower latency/jitter than most subscribers experience today. The end result in most cases is that the institutions (PH and H) receive enhanced connectivity services for the same or less out-of-pocket investment they were making in connectivity prior to the NCTN program. In addition, a current Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) from the Federal Communications Commission is intended to enable permanent, recurring funding for not only the current NCTN subscribers but potentially for many additional N.C. public and non-profit health care institutions.
NCTN connectivity provides these institutions with the network infrastructure required to utilize a diverse set of Telehealth and Health Care Information applications. As health care begins to depend more on Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), and Internet-enabled research for the next great cures, the NCTN will serve the high reliability, high bandwidth, and low latency/jitter network needs of health practitioners and researchers throughout North Carolina.