Population Health Insights

Mississippi Telehealth Network ‘Leads the Nation,’ Says Governor

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As its potential to improve outcomes and quality of care while also curbing costs becomes more and more apparent, the use of telehealth has become increasingly embraced by a diverse array of organizations nationwide — from healthcare systems and hospitals to state governments and major universities.

Among the organizations reporting early success with telehealth has been the state of Mississippi. Indeed, the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network — powered by Care Innovations® Health Harmony remote patient management (RPM) platform — is widely viewed as a watershed success story.

Thanks to the diabetes telehealth network, “Mississippi leads the nation in telemedicine and is one of only seven states to receive an ‘A’ rating from the American Telemedicine Association,” the state’s governor Phil Bryant has written in an editorial for Jackson’s Clarion-Ledger.

Citing the work of Care Innovations as well as the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), North Sunflower Medical Center and CSpire, the governor touts the success of the telehealth network in treating “200 patients in the region with the most severe form of diabetes. Early results include not a single case of remission and 10,000 miles of patient travel saved.”

More specifically, the diabetes telehealth program “saved roughly $400,000, reduced A1C levels by 1.7 percent and saw no ER visits or hospitalizations among the 100 residents involved in the initial six-month pilot,” according to a news release from the North Sunflower Medical Center.

Success Leads to Expansion for Mississippi Telehealth Network

Given the success of the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network’s pilot program, it didn’t take long for program leaders to announce a five-year extension — again spearheaded by Care Innovations technology.

“After seeing the success derived through our diabetes program with Care Innovations and the improvement in quality of life it provided for those enrolled, we are ready to extend the benefits to other chronically ill populations and healthcare organizations who share our vision of a healthcare system that extends into the home,” Kevin Cook, UMMC’s CEO of University Hospitals and Health System, said in a news release.

“By extending this program, we expect to save $189 million in Medicaid each year just with the diabetic population,” he added.

So confident is the state in its mission to expand its telehealth success, that the new program will involve hiring additional staff members and even adding a new facility, reports mHealthIntelligence.

And, once again, Care Innovations will be a key partner in Mississippi’s telehealth efforts.

Care Innovations has been an invaluable ally,” said former UMMC Chief Telehealth and Innovation Officer Dr. Kristi Henderson in the news release. “Their unmatched expertise contributed immensely in surpassing our initial measurements of success, proving that this model of care is feasible to implement and can generate savings quickly.”

“Because we started with a patient population facing the most difficult challenges, we are extremely confident we will continue to be successful as we expand the program to other chronic conditions,” she added.

Diabetes Telehealth Network’s Success Hinges on Empowering Patients

For Governor Bryant, the accomplishments of the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network also resonate on a personal level. “My mother died of complications of diabetes,” he revealed in a Clarion-Ledger video announcing the program. “My father was a diabetic. I understand from a personal level how difficult this disease can be.”

In the same ceremony, Dr. Henderson talks about how the telehealth services helps to meet these challenges by expanding patients’ access to care and improving patient engagement.

Transportation is a major challenge for many rural citizens, as is “finding time off from work” to visit caregivers, she says. “If we can bring it to them where they need it when they need it, it changes their health.”

“Beyond improved clinical outcomes, reduced travel, and avoided readmissions, there are the intangibles of empowering patients to take control of their own care, as well,” points out the American Journal of Managed Care in an analysis of the telehealth network.

“A lot of our patients hadn't touched technology before the Diabetes Telehealth Network,” Michael Adcock, administrator of the Center for Telehealth at UMMC, told the Clarion-Ledger. “Many didn't have Internet. But once they found out how easy it was and how useful the information is, they embraced it.”

Jackson resident Thomasene Bennett told the Clarion-Ledger about how her telehealth program has transformed her daily routine and empowered her to take greater control of her health. “I get up around 7 and check my vital signs. I turn on the tablet, and it says, 'Good morning, Thomasene,'” she said. “I check my vital signs and then push a button, and it tells me my blood pressure, sugar and temperature. I push another button, and it automatically goes into the system to save the information.”

The idea is to empower patients,” confirms Tonya Moore, UMMC’s administrator for community health services, in the same article. “We want to put a device in their hands to allow them to better manage their own chronic disease, and we want to support the doctor or nurse practitioner who takes care of them so that they can spend more time with their patients.”

“This is taking [telehealth] to the next level,” Dr. Henderson adds. “And now we can engage the patient in a daily interaction.”

Lessons from the UMMC Diabetes Network

Learn more about how telehealth programs like the Care Innovations Health Harmony platform — the basis for the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network — can help healthcare organizations improve care while reducing costs: Contact a Care Innovations representative for more information.