University of Arkansas System

The Arkansas Healthcare, Higher Education, Public Safety, & Research Integrated Broadband Initiative

The University of Arkansas plans to deploy a new middle-mile fiber network across every county in the state
that will extend, integrate, and enhance the capabilities of two major community-serving networks already in
existence across 42 economically distressed and underserved counties in the Mississippi Delta region of
Arkansas: the Arkansas Telehealth Oversight & Management (ATOM) Network and the Arkansas Research &
Education Optical Network (ARE-ON). The ATOM Network represents a partnership between healthcare, higher
education, public safety, and research community organizations in Arkansas with limited bandwidth and
equipment, while ARE-ON is the state’s only publicly owned fiber optic network serving four-year universities.
The project intends to enhance the healthcare and education components of both networks by enabling remote
clinical consultations and electronic record exchange, while connecting the networks’ educational partners to
state research networks as well as Internet2 and the National Lambda Rail. The project also plans to enhance
first responder and other emergency services by providing broadband connectivity to ambulance dispatchers, the
Arkansas Trauma Communications Center, and the Arkansas Bioterrorism Network.

Total Award: 
BTOP In Action
A doctor watches nurse perform an ultrasound via a video screen with a live feed

The University of Arkansas System deployed more than 2,200 miles of fiber through June 2013. The Arkansas e-Link project is integrating two existing, previously unconnected networks, the Arkansas Telehealth Network and the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network (AREON). It is providing upgraded broadband and/or equipment to more than 420 community anchor institutions in order to create a comprehensive statewide network for healthcare, higher education, research, and public safety services.

Through Arkansas e-Link, rural patients receive real-time consultation from medical specialists through interactive video telemedicine, allowing local doctors to collaborate with medical specialists to manage complex conditions. For instance, OB-GYN specialists in Little Rock are available to provide treament, diagnoses, and prenatal care protocols before the delivery of a baby at a remote clinic. After delivery, the local doctor and specialist collaborate on high-risk cases to determine if a Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) transportation to a Little Rock Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is necessary for either the infant or mother. This collaboration is critical to save lives and reduce medical costs as the cost of transportation is approximately $25,000 per instance.

In addition, BTOP funds are used to help fund the Arkansas SAVES (Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support) program. With telemedicine, patients suffering from stroke symptoms receive life-saving, specialized treatment from a neurologist at another location. One patient from Searcy, Arkansas, said, “I didn't know anything about the SAVES program, but I am so thankful it was there for me…I went back to teaching a month after the stroke; I’m fine. The doctor said it was as if I had never had the stroke.”

Reports and Documents
Award Documents