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University of Mississippi Medical Center: Center for Telehealth

Summary 
  • Need: Many rural areas in Mississippi lacked adequate access to specialty healthcare services such as emergency medicine, stroke neurology, pediatric specialists and psychiatrists. Mississippi's health and economic future depended on the implementation of an innovative, culturally-appropriate, community-based effort to improve health outcomes.
  • Intervention: The University of Mississippi Medical Center created the Center for Telehealth to deliver quality specialty services through telehealth video conferencing and remote monitoring tools to the underserved areas of Mississippi.
  • Results: The program has been successfully implemented throughout many of the state's rural hospitals and has reduced transfers and geographic barriers for patients.
Description

The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) has a clear goal: to serve Mississippians by providing quality patient care, medical education, and ground breaking research. As the only academic medical center in a state with great disparities in health status, high disease and mortality rates, and low socioeconomic status, incorporating telehealth was imperative. In 2003, the University of Mississippi began offering specialty care through telehealth to expand services to rural hospitals and clinics across the state. The Center for Telehealth was launched a decade later in 2013.

UMMC Center for Telehealth Logo

Rural hospitals in Mississippi lacked adequate access to healthcare and specialty care services. Of the 82 counties in the state, 53 of them are more than 40 minutes away from specialty care. This made it difficult for rural residents to access needed care without extensive travel, increasing health risk because, in emergency situations, access to specialty care can sometimes mean life or death. It was also a burden on the hospitals, as they often lost needed reimbursements because they had to transfer patients to larger hospitals due to a lack of specialty services. The Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center is addressing this issue by working to eliminate barriers to quality healthcare and improve access to specialty care in the state through telehealth.

Funding from the Bower Foundation and the Mississippi State Department of Health helped this program to get started.

Services offered

With the Center for Telehealth, patients and providers can access needed healthcare services through telemedicine technology. In the TelEmergency program, specially trained nurse practitioners (NPs) collaborate with physicians through technology. The NPs work directly under emergency medicine physicians at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) via a telemedicine connection. This team is then able to work together to provide quality care to patients in rural hospitals in real-time. The patients are treated with guidance and input from remote experts in a variety of fields. The Center for Telehealth program has expanded its services to include:

  • Allergy/Immunology
  • Cardiology
  • Child development
  • Child maltreatment services
  • Corporate/Workplace Health
  • Dermatology
  • Education
  • eICU
  • Emergency and trauma care
  • Endocrinology
  • Genetics
  • Geriatrics
  • Infectious disease
  • Neonatology
  • Neurology
  • Obstetrics
  • Ophthalmology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacy
  • Psychiatry and psychology
  • Pulmonology
  • Radiology
  • Remote patient home monitoring
  • Pediatric specialties
  • School health
  • Stroke neurology
  • Telemetry
  • Wound care

The Center also supports a Telehealth Call Center that is staffed 24/7 to provide medical advice and referrals to rural hospitals.

UMMC Telehealth Kit
Remote Patient Monitoring Kits

The Center for Telehealth launched The Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network in August 2014 to pilot an advanced healthcare model on patients with uncontrolled diabetes living in the Mississippi Delta. By bringing healthcare resources into the patient’s home through Remote Patient Monitoring Kits, they aimed to improve clinical outcomes and care coordination for chronic disease management. Success of the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network has lead UMMC to enhance programs for patients having multiple diseases. It is estimated that the state will save approximately $189 million each year with the use of remote patient monitoring. The program continues to focus on decreasing health disparities, managing chronic diseases, reducing emergency room visits, reducing hospital admissions and readmissions, and improving health quality while reducing the overall cost of care.
Results

The Center for Telehealth led by UMMC is now in over 200 clinical sites in 69 of the 82 counties across Mississippi, and has reached over 500,000 patients. They offer expert advice in over 5 specialties to rural hospitals and clinics. This has helped these rural facilities to:

  • Keep patients in their local facilities and closer to home and family
  • Improve the hospital's operating margins
  • Enhance the rural recruitment and retention of health professionals at these hospitals
  • Avoid unnecessary transfer of patients by accessing specialty physicians remotely
  • Improve care coordination
  • Reduce duplicate tests
  • Improve workforce and professional development education

Some of the recognitions the program has received include:
UMMC Center for Telehealth Senate Presentation
Executive Director of the UMMC Center for Telehealth Michael Adcock presented at a 2017 U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Meeting in Washington DC.

Recent news articles featuring the University of Mississippi Medical Center: Center for Telehealth:

Barriers

The UMMC Center for Telehealth faces similar barriers to other comprehensive programs across the nation. Provider capacity is an issue, as well as the ability to provide services across state lines, due to the lack of license reciprocity. The restrictions on payment from Medicare related to geography and type of telemedicine have slowed the program’s growth. In light of these difficulties, the program’s coordinators work through congressional delegation in Washington DC to address these issues.

Replication

This program can be a viable solution for other rural hospitals, clinics, and other settings with a shortage of specialty care. It is a cost-effective way to expand services, and patients are able to receive a wide-range of medical services close to home.

UMMC offers the Clinical Training program that teaches clinicians, administrators, and technical staff how to implement a telemedicine program like this one.

Contact Information
Michael Adcock, FACHE, Executive Director
UMMC Center for Telehealth
601.815.2048
madcock@umc.edu
Topics
Hospitals
Telehealth
States served
Mississippi
Date added
January 9, 2006
Date updated or reviewed
July 19, 2017

Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.