Distance Learning and Telemedicine Fund brings video conferencing to rural areas

Tuesday, January 10 2012

The USDA has granted more than $30 million in funds to bring telemedicine and distance learning to rural America. One hundred recipients spanning 34 states received funds to better meet education and healthcare needs.

In Northern New Hampshire, the North Country Education Services Agency received $497,531 in grants to work towards improving rural healthcare and educational opportunities. North Country schools can use the new video distance learning network to communicate and share educational resources with other schools. The Reid Hospital in Richmond received $361,787 to help develop telemedicine capabilites for its Reid RuralConnect project. The project is looking to use funds to provide rural patients with specialty care via web conferencing technology from remote locations within the community.

Through the use of telemedicine and distance learning, the USDA hopes that implementing technologies like video conferencing can broaden the community's access to education and services that are currently out of reach for some residents.

The USDA notes that the funds are meant for the purposes of interactive video equipment, audio and video equipment, computer hardware and software, computer network components, the acquisition of instructional programming and other capital assets that will help rural communities establish video conferencing capabilities.