Arizona Telemedicine Program Builds Cost-Effective Rural Health Care Telecom Network


In 1996, a major challenge to the recently funded Arizona Telemedicine Program was to figure out how to create a cost-effective telecommunications infrastructure in rural Arizona. At the time, Arizona governors had attempted to create such an infrastructure without success. The Arizona Telemedicine Program developed a unique statewide health care telecommunications collaborative, which it called “Project Nightingale”. This has been remarkably successful in changing the telecommunications landscape in both rural and urban Arizona. It has resulted in an unprecedented level of cooperation within the health care industry in Arizona. Today, 45 health care organizations, from both the public and private sectors, are linked to the network. All health care organizations in Arizona are eligible for participation.

ATP Network Engineer
Arizona Telemedicine Program “Corp of Engineers” employee installs wireless telecommunications equipment at a high school in Tuba City, on the Navajo Reservation. A University-based telebehavioral health care service brings adolescent telepsychiatry services directly to students at their own school.



Patients can enter the system of interlocking telemedicine programs at over 100 sites throughout the state. Currently, the network forms the basis for the development of a statewide electronic health record system. Millions of dollars in outside grants have resulted from the creation of this multi-functional network. The network is operated by the Arizona Telemedicine Program Corps of Engineers, all of whom are University of Arizona employees. In Arizona in 1996, major telecommunications companies were largely disinterested in installing a statewide rural telecommunications infrastructure. Talented University employees figured out a better way to do it.

View the Evolution of the Arizona Model 1996-1998

1996-1998    1998-2000   2000-2001   2000+

View a detailed map of the Arizona Regional Behavior Health Authority (RBHA) Telemedicine sites.

RBHA sites link to the Arizona Telemedicine Network through a telecommunications bridge in Flagstaff and are represented as “AZ TeleBehavioral Health Net” on the Arizona Telemedicine Network map.

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