Population Health Insights

House Small Business Committee Discusses Benefits of Telehealth Funding Expansion

house-small-business-committee-discusses-benefits-of-telehealth-funding-expansion.jpg

On July 20, 2017, several subcommittees within the U.S. House Committee on Small Business held a joint hearing to explore how telehealth services can help America deal with its ongoing rural care shortage.

Entitled “21st Century Medicine: How Telehealth Can Help Rural Communities,” the hearing was held with the goal of better defining how “utilization [and] expansion of telehealth services could benefit small businesses and rural communities.”

Among the witnesses providing testimony was Michael Adcock, Administrator of the Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). A few years ago, UMMC implemented the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network in an effort to “positively impact the prevalence and burden of diabetes in Mississippi,” as company reps announced in a news release.

As Adcock explained in his hearing testimony, positive results from the network’s pilot group arrived almost immediately. After just six months, preliminary results showed:

  • “A marked decrease” in blood glucose levels
  • Earlier recognition of diabetes-related eye disease
  • A reduced need to travel to see specialists
  • “No diabetes-related hospitalizations or emergency room visits” among the 100 pilot patients

“This pilot demonstrated a savings of over $300,000 in the first 100 patients over six months,” he added. “The Mississippi Division of Medicaid extrapolated this data to show potential savings of over $180 million per year if 20 percent of the diabetics on Mississippi Medicaid participated in this program.

“Today, the UMMC Center for Telehealth delivers more than 30 medical specialties in over 200 sites across the state including rural clinics, schools, prisons and corporations,” he added.

Educating, Engaging & Empowering Patients with RPM

Care Innovations® is proud to have played a major part in the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network, providing the remote patient management (RPM) technology that serves as the network’s platform.

RPM is designed to educate, engage and empower patients so that they can learn to take care of themselves,” Adcock explained in his testimony. And in an article for Adcock published by the Clarion-Ledger last year, he explained how.

“A lot of our patients hadn't touched technology before the Diabetes Telehealth Network,” he said. “Many didn't have Internet. But once they found out how easy it was and how useful the information is, they embraced it.”

Governor Phil Bryant has written and spoken often about the success of the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network, as well as the personal meaning it holds for him.

“Mississippi leads the nation in telemedicine and is one of only seven states to receive an ‘A’ rating from the American Telemedicine Association,” the governor wrote in an editorial for the Clarion-Ledger.

“My mother died of complications of diabetes,” he also revealed. “My father was a diabetic. I understand from a personal level how difficult this disease can be.

‘Maximizing Our Utilization of Healthcare Resources’ with Telehealth

So successful has the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network proven that expansion plans are already underway.

“Given the success of the diabetes pilot, UMMC Center for Telehealth has expanded remote patient monitoring to other disease states, including adult and pediatric diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension, bone marrow transplant and kidney transplant,” Adcock reported in his hearing testimony.

“By extending this program, we expect to save $189 million in Medicaid each year just with the diabetic population,” added Kevin Cook, UMMC’s CEO of University Hospitals and Health System, in a news release.

“The depth and breadth of our statewide network allows us to deliver world-class care in 68 of our state’s 82 counties and provides access for patients who might otherwise go untreated,” Adcock added in his testimony.

Adcock also explained several other related programs that leverage telehealth technology for Mississippi businesses.

“Businesses in Mississippi that have utilized our telehealth and remote patient monitoring programs have demonstrated success by improving access to care, decreasing cost of care and improving quality of care for their employees. Healthy employees mean decreased absenteeism, increased productivity and a greater chance for small businesses to remain viable,” he said.

“Maximizing our utilization of healthcare resources through the use of technology is the only way we can reach all of the Mississippians who need lifesaving health care.”

If you’re interested in learning about how telehealth and RPM can help your organization achieve greater efficiencies in care while reducing operational costs, we encourage you to contact us here to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Care Innovations representative.