As the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s heralded pilot program to remotely monitor Delta diabetes patients wraps up, lessons learned already have improved care for hundreds enrolled in UMMC’s telehealth network.
The same model used to bring care to patients in the Diabetes Telehealth Network is now being deployed — with significant technology upgrades — for patients coping with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, kidney disease and a number of other conditions that require chronic disease management. That’s in addition to adult and pediatric diabetes.
“A lot of our patients hadn’t touched technology before the Diabetes Telehealth Network. Many didn’t have Internet,” said Michael Adcock, administrator of the Center for Telehealth at UMMC. “But once they found out how easy it was and how useful the information is, they embraced it.
“It’s been extraordinarily beneficial from the point that it makes them feel more comfortable with their health-care team. They’ve appreciated getting education about their health in bite-sized pieces. Over time, that gives them a good knowledge of their disease.”
The Center for Telehealth was created in 2003 to meet the dire need for specialized care and other public health services for Mississippi’s rural corners. Its Diabetes Telehealth Network, a partnership between UMMC, Care Innovations, C Spire, GE Healthcare, the office of Gov. Phil Bryant and North Sunflower Medical Center, kicked off in early 2014 in about 20 Delta counties. The program allowed doctors and other health practitioners to treat patients remotely, in real time and at home, using online streaming video technology and other tools for two-way live communication. Participants were trained on tablet computers loaned at no cost and requiring a cellular broadband connection.
It abundantly met its goals of improving clinical outcomes and care coordination for managing diabetes, increasing access to care and conveniently bringing health-care resources into patients’ homes, Adcock said.