Governator: 'Hasta la Vista, Paper.'

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated the launch this week of an ambitious "telehealth" system that will use a dedicated broadband network to link hospitals and clinics throughout the country's most populous state.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated the launch this week of an ambitious "telehealth" system that will use a dedicated broadband network to link hospitals and clinics throughout the country's most populous state.

The California Telehealth Network went live on Tuesday, connecting its first two remote sites: Oroville Hospital north of Sacramento and CommuniCare Health Center in West Sacramento. The goal is to add another 50 sites, including rural and urban providers, in the coming month, reports the Los Angeles Times:

"What we are launching today is a new era for health care," Schwarzenegger said. "Through a simple broadband link, this state-of-the-art system will save lives by instantly connecting people from across the state, including underserved and rural areas, with the best and brightest doctors. The California Telehealth Network marks the beginning of a new digital highway that will fundamentally change the future of how health care is provided."

Dana Blankenhorn, a blogger for ZDNet Healthcare, said the project is doomed. A "top-down design" and other features of the network would ensure its failure, he predicted.

Funds for the digital health care highway are part of California's $60 billion infrastructure development program, which will also pay for "bridges, highways and other concrete-and-steel projects," reports Modern Healthcare. The threat to lives from subpar health infrastructure is just as real as that from crumbling overpasses, suggested Schwarzenegger. "There are a thousand people a year dying in California of just someone misreading a prescription or not having the total medical records," the governor said. "This is inexcusable."

Funds for the $30 million network came from the Federal Communications Commission ($22.1 million), the California Emerging Technology Fund ($3.6 million), the California Healthcare Foundation ($2 million) and other sources. The goal is to have 800 sites connected to the network within three years.

Schwarzenegger made the announcement at the UC Davis Cancer Center. He was joined by U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra.

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