Population Health Insights

UMMC Telehealth Program Seen as Model for Increased Access to Care


The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) telehealth program has been a model of telehealth for years, helping the state become one of the few to receive an ‘A’ rating from the American Telemedicine Association, as Governor Phil Bryant has pointed out.

Care Innovations is proud to be among the developers of that network. In 2014, we helped launch the pilot program for the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network, a collaboration with the UMMC and other partners to expand the state’s capacity to provide services to diabetic patients in its most remote corners.

 The program was an immediate success: In its initial six-month pilot period, the UMMC 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,” recaps Eric Wicklund for mHealthIntelligence.

Lessons from the UMMC Diabetes Network

And when it came to realizing those accomplishments, “Care Innovations has been an invaluable ally,” former UMMC Chief Telehealth and Innovation Officer Dr. Kristi Henderson stated in a 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.”

UMMC Telehealth Program ‘Improves Continuity of Care’

In recent weeks, the UMMC telehealth program has returned to the headlines, with Modern Healthcare’s Rachel Z. Arndt extolling it as an exemplar of the kind of telehealth implementation that “improves continuity of care,” especially in rural areas.

And Mississippi is a state where the “need for access to healthcare is great,” Arndt explains. It’s the state with the “highest rates of diabetes, low birth-weights and death from heart disease” — and it’s also reeling from a physician shortage that’s among the worst in the U.S., with just 186 doctors for every 100,000 residents.

Many of those residents must travel for hours to see a specialist in Mississippi’s only academic medical center, in the capital, Jackson. “But that facility, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, happens to be a leader — specifically, in telehealth,” Arndt writes, pointing out that the UMMC telehealth center connects more than 200 locations across a state where access is sorely needed.

“Not only do the UMMC program and others like it increase access to care, but they also strengthen continuity of care,” as Arndt points out.

UMMC: ‘We Are Ready to Extend the Benefits’ of Telehealth

Arndt points out that providers, too, have been receptive to telehealth. “In the beginning, we had providers who were a little tentative,” one administrator told her. “But once they saw the positive outcomes and acceptance by their patients, that helped solidify it for them.”

The benefits of telehealth extend to facilities as well as patients and providers. On top of the cost savings that come from reduced transfers and re-hospitalizations, a recent report suggests that facilities with a telehealth infrastructure are more financially viable, thanks to the growing demand for these services.

So successful has the UMMC telehealth program been that administrators are planning expansions — to other facilities, care types, and geographical settings. The AP recently reported that the state’s McComb School District will be “the first in the state to provide mental health counseling to students” using the UMMC telehealth network.

“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,” as UMMC CEO of University Hospitals and Health System Kevin Cook stated in a news release.

The UMMC telehealth program could even ultimately help the state of Mississippi — one of the nation’s most remote — develop a more modern and comprehensive communications infrastructure, which is seen as an increasing necessity for telehealth expansion.

“As we start doing more visits in the home, we're going to have to really improve the broadband across the state and country,” UMMC telehealth program executive director Michael Adcock told Arndt, adding: “If we can make it work in Mississippi,” he said, “we ought to be able to drive policy for the rest of the country.”

MILESTONES: UMMC Diabetes Teleheatlh Network

Interested in learning more about our role in developing the UMMC telehealth network, and how we can put that expertise to work for your facility or organization? Contact us here to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Care Innovations® telehealth specialist.

Contact Care Innovations