Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program
The Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program (IRHTP) is a joint effort of a consortium of 85 Iowa rural and urban hospitals, two South Dakota hospitals, one Nebraska hospital, the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) and the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). The program's purpose is to connect willing Iowa hospitals to a dedicated broadband fiber network using the ICN infrastructure.
In May 2007, IHA submitted the IRHTP proposal on behalf of Iowa hospitals to the Federal Communications Commission. The proposal was to provide last-mile fiber connections for members of the consortium by linking them to the closest appropriate ICN Point of Presence with one gigabit of ethernet electronics.
IHA is responsible for the general project administration and management. This includes:
- Meeting logistics for the IRHTP board of directors.
- Project coordination for the IRHTP.
- Management of the administrative aspects of the approved network.
- Complete and submit program forms and supporting documentation.
- Universal Service Administrative Company payment management.
- Primary point of contact for the IRHTP.
- Communication of requests and requirements to participating entities.
- Administrative project documentation.
- Maintenance of project files
- Audit preparation.
For more information, contact Corey Martin at IHA, 515-288-1955.
The last 12 months have proven to be a busy but exciting time for the network. Health care continues to see financial challenges; however these challenges have not deterred our hospitals as they provide care to communities across the state. I want to thank you for your tireless efforts. IRHTP is working to assist with these financial pressures. In 2022 we put in place new internet pricing with the ICN which reduced bandwidth costs to members. This was a huge win for our facilities. In 2023, we continue to look for added revenue to help hospitals. The continued partnership between IRHTP and FG Fiberutilities is working to find additional dollars for hospitals through the federal USAC reimbursement program.
I wanted to provide an update on 2023 activities taking place within the IRHTP network.
- The 2022 funding year commitment letters with USAC have been approved. Beginning in July, IRHTP will request funds for approved expenses during the July 2022 to June 2023 period. Expect to see these dollars come to your hospitals in December 2023, once auding and disbursement activities are completed.
- The 2023 funding year timeline was extended to May 31st. This allows IRHTP additional time to review expenses and submit budget requests for the July 2023 to June 2024 period more accurately.
- IRHTP partnered with FG Fiberutilities to complete our LOA (Letters of Agency) process. Updated paperwork was sent to all facilities at the start of the year and has been returned and submitted to USAC. This work was critical to allow IRHTP to continue filing reimbursement requests on behalf of our member hospitals in future years. Thank you for all your work to return this documentation so quickly.
- FG Fiberutilities is currently submitting the IRHTP funding requests for 2023. Last year, the IRHTP board voted to have FG assist in this process so IRHTP can take advantage of their expertise, software and analytics, and resources to expedite these requests.
- IRHTP and FG Fiberutilities continue to partner in revenue expansion opportunities for members. In 2023 FG Fiberutilities added two more hospitals to this effort and are doing a deep dive into all their IT expenses looking for eligible USAC reimbursements outside of ICN network expenses. These deep dives into member IT spends can be a huge win for facilities financially and are highly recommended if your facility has not explored this option.
- The continued growth of the internet has prompted the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) to undertake an effort to review and conserve IP addresses. ICN is doing a deep dive into the number of IP addresses that member hospitals have and will be requesting justification forms be completed this spring. ICN will review these forms and with this new push by ARIN will need to assign expenses to facilities requesting IP addresses over the standard matrix. The IP address review will be completed mid-summer with the charges being implemented no earlier than October 2023. IRHTP and ICN have met to assure these charges are as minimal as possible. IRHTP has also reviewed these charges and found them to be eligible for USAC dollars as well.
It is a busy time at the IRHTP consortium. I want to thank each of you for your continued support of the network. I am grateful to each of you for providing input into the direction of the consortium, and putting your trust in the work we are doing. I look forward to the continued success the consortium brings to our members.
- Kent Sona, Chief Information Officer, Nebraska Methodist Health System
- Lee Carmen, VP of Information Services, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
- Jeff Cash, Senior VP and CIO, Mercy Medical Center – Cedar Rapids
- Robert Frieden, VP of Info Services and CIO, Genesis Health System
- Veronica Fuhs, Chief Executive Officer, Monroe and Davis County Hospitals and Clinics
- Bryan Hunger, Chief Executive Officer, Jefferson County Health Center
- Matt Sells, Chief Executive Officer, Shenandoah Medical Center
- Gary Davis, VP of IT, Iowa Hospital Association