Frequently Asked Questions

1.    What is the IRHN?

Illinois Rural HealthNet (IRHN) is a 501c3 organization of healthcare organizations that have come together to deploy and maintain a high-speed network to connect rural hospitals and healthcare clinics in Illinois.

Via IRHN, rural healthcare entities are linked to each other and to urban medical centers, allowing them to perform telemedicine and transmit all types of medical and radiologic files. With IRHN’s fiber connection, healthcare providers will be able to meet new HIE and HIT requirements, treat more patients, consult remotely with specialists while patients are at the hospital, and send and receive all radiological and digital imaging expeditiously. 

The IRHN meets the broadband recommendations of the National Institute of Health and the Healthcare section of the National Broadband Plan.

 2.    Where is the money coming from?

 Funding for the initial $24 million network was provided by the Federal Communications Commission, through the Rural Healthcare Pilot Program, that requires a 15% match. 

In 2013, IRHN will apply for additional funding from the new FCC Healthcare Connect Fund, which provides 65% of the cost of connecting to eligible healthcare providers.

3.    Who actually provides the broadband services that connect to rural hospitals and clinics?

IRHN posted requests for fiber-based services on the federal USAC website, and the best responses were chosen to build the network.  IRHN works with a variety of equipment providers and network carriers to facilitate excellence in data transmission at all levels.

IRHN provides its customers with the security of a Network Operations Center for managing and operating the integrated network on a 24/7/365 basis, with two remote locations for backup and disaster recovery.

4.    Who will I call to ask for changes to my service, or if there’s a disruption in service?

For current users requiring changes to their services contact Dave Lunemann - (866) 342-3742 / dlunemann@fiberutilities.com  

5.    If my hospital is getting funds from USAC now via the Primary Rural Health Care Program, how will that work when it’s time to become part of the IRHN?

IRHN coordinates the timing, working with each facility and also directly with USAC to agree on the target date to move each facility onto the new network.

 6.    When is IRHN going to be completed and hospitals and clinics connected?

As of January 2015, the fiber backbone is in place and 60 hospitals and clinics are exchanging information with each other and via the Internet.  Other locations are scheduled for connection.  FCC funding for broadband networks has been extended on an ongoing basis, making it possible for IRHN will continue to expand well into the future. 

7.     What kind of healthcare entities are eligible to be connected to IRHN?

The following are eligible to be connected to IRHN, per the FCC rules for the Healthcare Connect Fund:

  • Public and not-for-profit healthcare providers; 
  • Post-secondary educational institutions offering healthcare instruction, teaching hospitals, or medical schools;
  • Dedicated emergency departments of rural for-profit hospitals;
  • Community mental health centers;
  • Beginning in 2014, skilled nursing facilities.

Urban-based healthcare providers are eligible for funding as well, as long as they constitute a de minims portion of the network, and as long as they are members of an eligible consortium, such as IRHN.

For-profit hospitals and medical facilities also are eligible to be connected, but are required by the FCC to pay their “fair share” of costs to be linked to the network.  The IRHN welcomes for-profit facilities which provide a large percentage of rural-based healthcare and will happily provide more information to these entities upon request.    

If you have questions, please contact Dave Lunemann - (866) 342-3742 or e-mail at: dlunemann@fiberutilities.com


Home about current projects radiology transmission what is telemedicine news and presentations map FAQ links contact us