Special to Find It In Fondren
Mississippi faces a growing diabetes crisis, ranking second among all states nationwide in disease prevalence with more than 373,000 adults in the state living with some form of diabetes. In an effort to address this problem, Gov. Phil Bryant has joined with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), North Sunflower Medical Center (NSMC), GE Healthcare, Intel-GE Care Innovations and C Spire to offer people with diabetes more consistent and timely access to clinicians through the use of telehealth technology in their homes.
“This revolutionary telehealth effort will deliver top-notch medical care to patients in one of Mississippi’s most medically underserved areas, providing a new lifeline for health and disease management,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “Innovations like this also spur further growth and economic benefit in the medical industry. I thank Dr. Henderson and all of the partners for working to make this program a reality.”
The Diabetes Telehealth Network will begin recruiting patients this spring in the Mississippi Delta to participate in an 18-month remote care management program, a concept which fuses technology with UMMC specialists to improve patient outcomes in a historically underserved area of the state. The program — a first of its kind nationally — is designed to improve the health of participants while also reducing the total cost of care.
In 2010, 12.1 percent of adults in the Mississippi Delta, among the more underserved and impoverished regions in the nation, reported being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and 293 died from complications related to the disease. In 2012, diabetic medical expenses in Mississippi totaled $2.74 billion, according to the American Diabetes Association.
“We know that diabetes is one of the foremost chronic diseases in Mississippi,” said Dr. Kristi Henderson, director of telehealth at UMMC. “This program can help improve care coordination and strengthen connections between clinicians and patients, and will serve as a proof of concept as we look to expand this model geographically and to other diseases. Sunflower County has been a pioneer with us for telehealth and often is one of our primary sites in starting up new specialties.”