Why Broadband Is Important To The Estes Park Medical Center

Broadband availability for the Estes Valley has been a newsworthy topic in recent years. And for good reason: Our retailers rely on it, our town and schools rely on high-speed, high-availability information flow, and the Estes Park Medical Center (EPMC) has critical information needs that are enabled by the presence of broadband --- and hindered when broadband is limited or broken.

When the Estes voters recently chose to grant the Town of Estes Park the ability to participate in public broadband activities in the Estes Valley, there were many of us who could see the great value to our economic health – and the great value to our healthcare services.

Many communities in Colorado, and in other states, have similar efforts afoot to engage and expand broadband in their communities. In virtually every case, retailers, government, schools, and healthcare providers strongly encourage and support these efforts.

On the healthcare front in the Estes Valley, broadband connectivity allows EPMC to securely access and exchange an enormous amount of information about our patients with other providers. When we transfer patients “down the hill” for advanced or tertiary care, the medical record follows those patients down. Primary-care physicians can also then connect online and help manage and monitor care at many of those other facilities. Many of our radiology images (especially CT scans, MRIs, and after-hours X-rays) are shared with radiologists and providers on the Front Range, for continuity of care. And we often need to be able to view images taken by Front Range hospitals. This is enabled by broadband, and impaired when it’s limited or down.

There are many more applications that exchange medical information (often critical information) with other providers outside the Estes Valley. The efforts to expand broadband in the valley and to provide sufficient broadband economically to all businesses and citizens offers many opportunities for evolving medical care. For example, our home health nurses and therapists visit many, many Estes residents to assist with rehabilitation, medical assessment and treatment, even household chores and more. When broadband is available at the household, the nurse can document the requisite information real-time, and potentially communicate with the medical center for additional care clarification or other exchange of information. And the possibilities of home-monitoring for those who need it most takes a quantum leap forward when broadband is available to virtually every home. Real-time awareness of medical issues in the home becomes possible with on-person alert systems, cardiac monitoring, monitoring of other important medical measurements, and so on.

Teleconferencing with one’s care providers becomes enabled with a fully-evolved broadband network in the Estes Valley. Many patient appointments would be perfectly successful without requiring the patient to travel to the medical center for a face-to-face conference with their provider. And then there’s our patient portal. You can communicate securely with your clinic physician, view your lab and radiology reports, request appointments, and much more, through your secure internet connection.

There are many other potential applications, but most importantly, the success of so many medical services relies on a robust and high-performing network of broadband. While broadband could encourage new high-tech jobs in Estes, it’s your hometown medical center and therefore you, the citizens, who would benefit first from a healthy, strong, powerful broadband network throughout the valley.

On the parallel, but also very critical, aspect of broadband redundancy, the town, the medical center, and many others have worked together to help press for additional fiber-optic lines up the canyon. This is also critical, and fortunately, with the efforts of many, we are moving toward redundant fiber-optic cables up the canyons by sometime in 2018. As we all know, the flood of 2013 and the daylong outage in March 2016 showed us how important redundancy in the form of multiple fiber-optic lines is to all of the services we provide in our beautiful town.

In the meantime, the medical center physicians and staff provide the topflight service for which they’re known, regardless of the status of advanced broadband throughout the valley. Still, helping ALL of Estes Park’s businesses and residents gain connection to the most advanced broadband available would benefit all of us. I applaud the Town of Estes Park for the visionary effort to expand broadband connectivity throughout the Estes Valley. I encourage you, the citizens of Estes, to support these efforts – for the good of your family and friends and for the good of all who live in or visit this incredible mountain town.

Gary M. Hall
CIO -- Estes Park Medical Center
Phone: 970-577-4443
Cell: 970-744-9052