The state of Mississippi has unveiled plans for a trial of telehealth services involving a range of public- and private-sector partners, including technology giants GE and Intel.
Authorities are looking to connected health technologies to address what they describe as a growing diabetes crisis – Mississippi ranks second among US states in terms of the prevalence of the disease, with more than 373,000 adult sufferers.
Concern has prompted Phil Bryant, the state’s governor, to join forces with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), North Sunflower Medical Center, GE Healthcare (Fairfield, CT, USA), Intel-GE Care Innovations (Roseville, CA, USA) and C Spire (Ridgeland, MS, USA), offering people with diabetes better access to clinicians through the use of telehealth technology in their homes.
“This revolutionary telehealth effort will deliver top-notch medical care to patients in one of Mississippi’s most medically underserved areas, providing a new lifeline for health and disease management,” said Bryant. “Innovations like this also spur further growth and economic benefit in the medical industry.”
The partnership – named the Diabetes Telehealth Network – says it will begin recruiting patients this spring in the Mississippi Delta to participate in an 18-month remote care management program.
They say the program is the first of its kind nationally and will help to improve the health of participants while also reducing the total cost of care.
According to data from local authorities, some 12.1% of adults in the Mississippi Delta were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2010, when 293 people died from complications relating to the disease.
Data also shows that diabetic medical expenses in Mississippi came to $2.74 billion in 2012, according to the American Diabetes Association.
“We now that diabetes is one of the most chronic diseases in Mississippi,” said Kristi Henderson, director of telehealth at UMMC. “This program can help improve care coordination and strengthen connections between clinicians and patients, and will serve as a proof of concept as we look to expand this model geographically and to other diseases.”
According to the UMCC, the Diabetes Telehealth Network is to equip patients with Internet-capable tablets equipped with software that allows healthcare workers to provide remote care management services.
The project is to recruit up to 200 patients in Sunflower County who will use the technology to share health data – such as details of weight, blood pressure and glucose levels – with clinicians on a daily basis.
“We will bring UMMC’s specialists, including the pharmacist, the diabetic educator, the nurse, the endocrinologist and the ophthalmologist, to the Mississippi Delta through this technology,” said Henderson. “We will be able to provide interactive video consults, deliver patient education and engage with the patient daily to meet their needs.”
“Until now, this type of coordinated care that engages the patient in their home setting was simply not an option,” added Henderson.