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How Hospitals Can Reach Patients Using a Rural Telehealth Strategy

Executive Director - Friday, September 16, 2016

The University of Mississippi Medical Center has connected patients to specialists across rural Mississippi thanks to their robust telehealth strategy.

A session on rural telehealth attracted an eager, late morning crowd at this year's Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development Connections conference, which officially started on Sunday evening.
Michael Adcock, administrator, Center for Telehealth at the University of (Jackson) Mississippi Medical Center alongside Jeff Cowart, senior vice president of market development and public affairs, University Health System, Shreveport, La., walked us through why telehealth is not just a nice thing to do. "It is actually a very important business strategy,” Cowart says.
They also discussed how UMMC has been able to connect the most isolated patients in the state to specialists miles away and why other systems should follow suit.
“This is not just a rural issue. Telehealth can help solve issues to access that have nothing to do with distance from specialists. There are medical centers in urban areas that don’t have the specialty coverage they need,” says Adcock. “We do know this. It’s going to be big. It’s already big and it’s going to get bigger.”
For those that still weren’t convinced, Adcock presented some startling numbers. Since 2010, 48 rural hospitals have closed and in 2016, 283 rural hospitals are in danger of closing. And in Mississippi, 53 of its 82 counties are located more than a 40 minute drive away from specialty care. Providers had to get in their car and travel to patients, because physicians didn’t want patients to have to come to them.
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