Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune announced today that the Federal Communications Commission has selected two South Dakota hospital networks, Avera Health and Sanford Health, to participate in a pilot telehealth program. The program will award up to $4.7 million to Avera and its partners and up to $812,152 to Sanford.

"Telehealth will play a major role in improving the quality of care for rural South Dakotans," said Thune. "One of the greatest challenges facing rural communities in South Dakota and across the nation is access to health care. Telehealth technologies can reduce the distance between patients and doctors and enable complex procedures and diagnoses that otherwise would be impossible in rural health facilities."

Avera, in collaboration with Regional Health of Rapid City and Dakota Network, a non-profit organization supporting the information technology needs of federally qualified health centers in North and South Dakota, will use this funding to expand and connect current networks in South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The enhanced network will address health problems of the area's aging population, increase the use and quality of teleradiology, and increase distance education activities.

Sanford Health will connect seven existing networks in South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota to access administrative services and connect with educational institutions. Facilities served include the Aberdeen Area Indian Health Service.

Earlier this year Senator Thune introduced legislation to expand telehealth services across the nation. The Senate passed Senator Thune's amendment as part of the yet to be completed Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill. Senator Thune's amendment would increase funding to expand support for existing and new telehealth resource centers. Currently, these centers provide support to many telehealth providers in their regions. It would also support telehealth network grants, demonstrations, and pilot programs for telehomecare.

Nearly 400 individuals and organizations across the country have voiced their support for Senator Thune's telehealth amendment.