University of Mississippi Medical Center: Center for Telehealth
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Child development
- Child maltreatment services
- Corporate/Workplace Health
- Emergency and trauma care
- Infectious disease
- Psychiatry and psychology
- Remote patient home monitoring
- Pediatric specialties
- School health
- Stroke neurology
- Wound care
The Center also supports a Telehealth Call Center that is staffed 24/7 to provide medical advice and referrals to rural hospitals.
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.
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
Recognition paid to the program include:
- TMC 2015 Telehealth Awards for a Breakthrough Pilot Program, Recognizing the MS Diabetes Telehealth Network
- 2015 American Telemedicine Association President’s Award for Health Delivery, Quality and Transformation
- 2015 South Central Telehealth Resource Center’s Adam Rule award
- 2015 Hospital Charitable Services “Program of Promise” award by Jackson Healthcare
- 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Executive Fellow
- 2012 Mississippi Nurses Association Nightingale Award for Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year
- Edge Runner Award for Innovative Healthcare Program by the American Academy of Nursing
- 2012 and 2011 Jackson Health Care Charitable Service Finalist Award
- 2012 Mississippi Nightingale Award for Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year - Dr. Kristi Henderson
- 2011 Mississippi Nightingale Award for Nursing Advocate - Dr. Galli
- 2010 American Academy of Nurse Practitioners State Award for Excellence
- Mississippi Hospital Associations Organization of Nurse Executives-Innovation Award in 2010
Recent news articles featuring the University of Mississippi Medical Center: Center for Telehealth:
- Telehealth: Delivering the Right Care, at the Right Place, at the Right Time, American Hospital Association Case Study, 2017
- Treating diabetes by telehealth could save Mississippi $189 million annually, Internet Health Management, 2017
- Mississippi telehealth, remote monitoring pays dividends for diabetics, MedCity News, 2016
- Touting success, Mississippi telehealth effort expands beyond diabetes, Fierce Healthcare, 2016
- How telemedicine, remote patient monitoring help extend care into rural Mississippi, Mobi Health News, 2016
- UMMC’s telehealth center serves as model for nation, The DM Online, 2016
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.
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.
January 9, 2006
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.