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Advancements in Healthcare Using Telehealth (VIDEO)

JACKSON, Miss.- State officials are working with private technology companies and health care providers to expand telehealth throughout Mississippi and across the country.

U.S. Representative Greg Harper, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and former Senator Trent Lott held a press conference today at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson to discuss future roles for telehealth technology in connecting patients to care providers.

The project is aimed at helping state residents control their diabetes and also act as a cheaper and more convenient way of interacting with doctors and medical experts.

U.S. Representative Greg Harper said, “This has a lot of potential to help us in the state, whether it’s as simple as a followup visit and saves people a couple hours in the car, or for stroke treatment and prevention. There’s just unlimited potential for this.”

Telehealth could be helpful to people that don’t have easy access to major hospitals or have to drive hours just to see a doctor for a routine checkup.

“This is cutting edge for the rest of the nation what’s transpiring here today.” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy said, “It can provide greater healthcare at a lower cost, but reach many of the rural pockets we all have throughout our districts, but more importantly we can improve the quality of health forward looking before someones getting sick. You can provide greater healthcare soon before someone needs it which means a great amount of savings.”

This is a fairly new project that still needs to be made known to Mississippians and other states across the country.

Former Senator Trent Lott said, “This is going to help lives in all of Mississippi. We want to raise a profile of what this is all about. We’re going to work the medical centers across America to make sure the law, regulations and states realize what they can do and how important this care is. I want Mississippians to know about it and know Mississippi is leading the way in the technological and medical advancements that are occurring in this area.”

Governor Phil Bryant has also taken notice to this advancement in healthcare and in March signed first-of-its-kind legislation that requires private insurance companies, Medicaid and state employee health plans to reimburse providers for services performed via telehealth at an equal rate as those who provide in-person care.

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The project is estimated to cost about $1.6 million, including donations of staff time and medical technology, and will last 18 months.

The telehealth-based diabetes management services will be available at no cost to low-income, uninsured participants in the project.

In June, 200 low-income residents with diabetes will be given tablets with Internet access that contain Intel-GE Care Innovations and GE Healthcare software. The software will allow University of Mississippi and North Sunflower Medical Center providers to remotely monitor patient’s treatments and test results.

Meanwhile, C Spire — the third technology company associated with the initiative — will provide technical support for the wireless telecommunications services necessary to transmit the patient data.

Every patient will undergo a baseline exam and be provided with a treatment plan. They will have to monitor their glucose levels two to four times each day with an at home testing kit, check their weight and check their blood pressure each day.

The results then will be sent to providers via Bluetooth technology.

According to Stateline/USA Today, other states and medical groups already have expressed interest in the project.

Kristi Henderson, chief of telemedicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center told USA Today, “If we can do it in Mississippi, where chronic disease is at its worst, where poverty is at its worst, and where transportation and workforce issues are at their worst, we can make it work anywhere.”

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