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Extending Access to Quality Care in the Mississippi Delta: Diabetes Telehealth Network Sees Early Patient Success

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The Mississippi Delta stands as one of the most medically underserved and impoverished regions in the United States. In 2010, around 12 percent of adults in the Mississippi Delta reported being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Of this group, 293 died from complications related to the disease.

A recently launched telehealth public-private partnership is committed to tackling this challenge.

The Diabetes Telehealth Network links public policy and medical leaders like Governor Phil Bryant, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) and North Sunflower Medical Center (NSMC) in Ruleville, Mississippi, with industry innovators including GE Healthcare, Intel-GE Care Innovations and C Spire. As a first-of-its-kind program nationally, the Diabetes Telehealth Network is forging a stronger connection between diabetics and clinicians to spur earlier medical intervention, more effective use of health services, and positive health habits and behavioral change.

Today, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Mignon Clyburn joined Gov. Bryant and other stakeholders in announcing significant progress toward the goal of enrolling 200 patients in the 18-month remote care management program.

“Collaborating in this telehealth network allows us to help expand access to quality, affordable care for traditionally underserved patients with diabetes in the Mississippi Delta,” said Michael Becker, director of industry relations at GE Healthcare. “We are proud to be part of such an innovative healthcare program and look forward to seeing more positive patient outcomes in the months to come.”

Annie Ford, a patient at Sunflower Clinic who has recently enrolled in the program, says, “In the beginning, I was afraid because I knew my diabetes wasn’t where it should be, but in these last few weeks, I’ve learned more about my diabetes than the past 15 years I’ve had it. I’m enjoying it and I love my tablet because it’s teaching me a lot – you can never learn too much about your diabetes.”

Powered by Intel-GE Care Innovations and C Spire wireless technologies, clinicians can better engage and educate patients, adjust medical care plans, and schedule video chats with patients. The program has also helped bridge the gap between affordable and quality care by using broadband connections and infrastructure to connect patients in the rural town of Ruleville to a leading care management program at UMMC they otherwise would not have access to.

Not only have patients enrolled in the program experienced promising results, but it has also helped to expand the area of expertise and knowledge of participating clinicians.

“Just 4 months into the program, we’re already hearing such great patient feedback about how the Diabetes Telehealth Network is empowering patients to take better control of their diabetes from their home, yet still have the guidance and oversight of clinicians,” said Dr. Kristi Henderson, UMMC’s chief telehealth and innovation officer. “This program is helping improve care coordination and strengthen connections between clinicians and patients beyond the walls of a hospital in a way that I think will reduce the use of higher acuity clinical settings, like the ER.”

More Information

Diabetes Telehealth Network sees early success in Mississippi

North Sunflower Medical Center – patient videos and testimonials 

UMMC Telehealth Center  – Those interested in participating in the Diabetes Telehealth Pilot should contact North Sunflower Medical Center’s One Call Referral Line: (662) 756-4000.

Intel-GE Care Innovations: Learn how diabetes patients manage their condition 

Healthymagination, GE’s $6 Billion initiative to bring better healthcare to more people