Frequently Asked Questions


What is the IRHN?

Illinois Rural HealthNet (IRHN) is a 501c3 organization comprised of healthcare providers working as a consortium. IRHN created and operates a high-speed high security private network connecting a variety of hospitals and clinics in Illinois.

Through IRHN, rural healthcare entities are linked to each other and to urban medical centers, allowing access to a variety of telemedicine applications. In addition to robust access to the Internet, IRHN sites also operate a myriad of applications that require high bandwidth, low latency and secure connectivity over a private connection. With an IRHN’s connection, healthcare providers are able to meet new operational requirements, treat patients more efficiently, realize cost savings through sharing applications, consult remotely with specialists while patients are at the hospital, and send and receive all manner of 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.


Where does funding support come from?

Significant funding for the initial $24 million network investment was provided by the Federal Communications Commission, through its Rural Healthcare Pilot Program. Users of the network provided direct support in the form of a 15% match for certain capital expenditures.

In 2013, IRHN began the transition to underlying support funding from the FCC’s Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF).

Operational support comes from users in the form of a membership fee. When users support is combined with underlying HCF funding (up to 65% of eligible costs) the network offers high value and long-term sustainability.


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

A wide variety of service provider, vendor products and network components are organized and managed to form the functional high speed highly secure private network that is the IRHN. These vendors were selected utilizing a fair, open and transparent bidding process managed under USAC guidelines. The most favorable RFP responses are chosen to construct connections and operational capabilities of the network. IRHN maintains an ongoing relationship with a variety of equipment providers as well as network providers to manage and grow the network.

IRHN also supports its users with a Network Operations Center on a 24/7/365 basis.


Who can I contact if I would like more detailed information on using the IRHN?

Contact Dave Lunemann - (319) 297-6903 / dlunemann@fiberutilities.com  


If our health care facility is currently receiving HCF funding as an individual filer, or as a participant in another consortium, may we still participate in IRHN?

Absolutely. HCF eligible users often participate at multiple levels for available funding support. IRHN will work directly with your group or individual site to ensure appropriate participation and manage the entire process.


Is IRHN fully completed?

The needs of health care providers are constantly changing, so in a certain sense, the mission of the IRHN will never be fully completed. The network and applications made available to users over IRHN will grow and change as the needs of its users continue to evolve. As of July 1st, 2018, over 60 healthcare sites connect to the redundant IRHN fiber backbone. These sites are accessing centralized radiology services, exchanging information with each other directly or via data centers, and are utilizing large Internet connections provided by IRHN to manage their health care enterprises. Additional locations are connecting on an ongoing basis. IRHN will continue to expand and improve at a rate commensurate with our user’s needs.


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;
  • Skilled nursing facilities.

Certain urban-based healthcare providers are also eligible for funding support through the consortium as well provided IRHN maintains an adequate level of rural users.

For-profit hospitals, medical facilities and healthcare related entities also are eligible to be connected, however these sites are required by the FCC to support the network through a “fair share” cost component for port accessThe IRHN welcomes for-profit facilities that serve healthcare and will be happy to provide more information upon request.

If you have questions, please contact Dave Lunemann - (319) 297-6903 or e-mail at: dlunemann@fiberutilities.com


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