Telehealth works wonders in Mississippi

A population healthcare model in Mississippi that leverages telehealth technology to help curb diabetes has achieved early success and caught the attention of state officials who are part of the public-private partnership.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn visited the North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville, Miss. earlier this week as part of a continuing public-private partnership to address the growing diabetes crisis that affects more than 370,000 adults in Mississippi and 29.1 million people nationwide.

The program, which was designed to improve the health of participants as well as reduce the cost of care, provided state-of-the-art fixed and mobile broadband connections.

In 2010, 12.1 percent of adults in the Mississippi Delta, which is among the more underserved and impoverished regions in the nation, reported being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Of that group, 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.

This past January the state partnered with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, North Sunflower Medical Center, GE Healthcare, Intel-GE Care Innovations, and C Spire to provide people with diabetes more consistent and timely access to clinicians through the use of telehealth technology in their homes. The program, known as the Diabetes Telehealth Network, aims to enroll up to 200 patients.

“It is very encouraging to see positive results early in the program and hear the personal stories from patients and nurses who believe this program has the ability to create lasting change for individuals and the state of Mississippi,” Bryant said during his visit to the North Sunflower Medical Center. “This innovative partnership has gained the attention of the Federal Communications Commission as we are connecting patients in the rural town of Ruleville to a care management program they otherwise would not have access to in their town.”

The Diabetes Telehealth Network began recruiting patients in August in the Mississippi Delta to participate in an 18-month remote care management program, a concept that fuses technology with UMMC specialists to improve patient outcomes in an underserved area of the state. The program – a first of its kind nationally – is intended to forge a stronger connection between people with diabetes and clinicians in a way that supports earlier clinical intervention, more effective use of health services, and creates positive health habits and behavior change.

Participants in the Diabetes Telehealth Network received tablets powered by a Care Innovations telehealth solution that enables healthcare providers to remotely manage patients with chronic conditions. With their tablets, patients share what’s going on with them physically, emotionally and psychologically through daily health sessions with their clinicians. In addition, the tablets automatically capture their health data, such as weight, blood pressure and glucose levels, and transmit that daily to clinicians.

Using telehealth technology, clinicians can better engage and educate patients, easily adjust medical care plans, schedule phone calls or video chat with patients. C Spire provides the high-speed mobile broadband communications network needed to support the connection between patients and clinicians in even the most remote parts of Mississippi.

“Connecting people to the health and care services they need is the true promise of broadband,” said Clyburn, in a press statement. “I applaud the State of Mississippi and its private partners for making this project a priority. The Diabetes Telehealth Network is a terrific example of the value of the ubiquito

“Just four 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 Kristi Henderson, DNP, UMMC’s chief telehealth and innovation officer. In a news release. “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.”

“Our clinicians have expressed the ease of use with the technology to better manage patients and help coordinate the care they need,” said NSMC Executive Director Billy Marlow. “It’s rewarding to be a part of something that really makes a difference in peoples’ lives, and we are proud of what we have accomplished with the partners thus far.”

Article courtesy of Bernie Monegain at Healthcare IT News.

Making a Difference: North Sunflower Medical Center

Walt Grayson has another story about people who are making a difference for other people, this time from the Delta town of Ruleville.

We start at North Sunflower Medical Center, a hospital that has come back from the brink of extinction, and is bringing the whole community back with it.

It is a thriving critical care facility today, with an emergency room and a nursing home and a wellness center and a clinic that sees over 5000 people a month. And yet just six years ago, this facility was only moments away from closing.

That’s the condition it was in when Billy Marlow was promoted from a member of the board of directors, to Chairman of the Board, to acting administrator, all in short order.

Billy Marlow, the Executive Dir. of NSMC, Ruleville says, “We had about eight hours of cash on hand with a lot of debt and no patients.”

Through a lot of effort, determination, and primarily not knowing they couldn’t do this, they saved the hospital and more.

Joanie Perkins, Chief Development Officer, NSMC tells part of what they have done.

“We rank number one in patient satisfaction in the state of Mississippi and in the top 10 in the nation, of all hospitals, not just critical access. We are the cleanest facility and we have the nicest employees.”

That “cleanest” designation is by actual statistics, and the “nicest employees” is a matter of opinion, but stands to reason if you have all of the other accolades. But it was a mess when Billy Marlow took it over.

Billy says, “I did a survey the first thing I did was, ‘Tell me what’s wrong. Tell me how to fix it.’ And really the employees fixed this.”

Well, the fixing didn’t stop there. As much as the hospital has improved, so has the town of Ruleville, because the hospital has invested in the city.

Robin Marlow, NSMC Dir. of Community Relations says, “The North Sunflower has obtained several buildings downtown to create different businesses. We have Sunflower Dental Clinic, Sunflower Eye Station, The Diagnostic Center, which is digital mammograms.”

And a bunch more.

To the extent that this little hospital by all rights should have ceased to exist years ago. And if it had, what was left of the community would have followed. But it didn’t because of the employees, yes, but also because of Billy Marlow who thought they’d fix it rather than let it go. And in so doing, has made a difference for the thousands of patients who are treated here every year, for the 500 plus employees who work here, and the town of Ruleville, all defying the odds and not only surviving, but thriving.

Article courtesy of MSNewsNow

North Sunflower Medical Center to deploy McKesson health IT solutions

As part of its mission to become the first critical access hospital in Mississippi to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) technology, North Sunflower Medical Center plans to deploy a suite of McKesson information technology solutions. The new systems will replace paper-based records and disparate technologies and address duplicate data entry challenges with communications capabilities designed to automate outdated manual processes and better coordinate care.

“These two systems offer a winning combination for North Sunflower Medical Center and community healthcare providers across the country”
The deployment includes McKesson’s Paragon® health information system (HIS) , Practice Partner® EHR solution and RelayHealth claims and eligibility processing solutions, as well as workforce management to enable efficient staff scheduling. The rural medical center, which serves the Mississippi Delta region, expects to use this technology to dramatically simplify clinical and business operations while improving preventative care and patient safety.

With the new systems, North Sunflower’s 20 physicians, 24 mid-level practitioners, and authorized medical billing and support staff will have secure, “anywhere, anytime” access to complete patient records at their fingertips. Exam room notes in physician practices will update the patient’s chart automatically. Patients will be able to view their electronic health record, request prescription refills, pre-register, track treatments and communicate with their physicians via a secure Internet connection.

The technology is also intended to streamline workflows for North Sunflower’s medical teams and provide seamless integration across the medical center. McKesson’s information technology (IT) will play an important role at North Sunflower’s 25-bed hospital and community clinic, where practitioners treat a combined 2,600 patients per month, as well as its new 30,000 square foot wellness center. Doctors and nutritionists at the new facility will emphasize proactive and preventative care for the chronically ill.

“This strategic initiative with McKesson enables us to embark on a whole new level of big-hospital healthcare in one of the most economically challenged communities in the country,” said Joanie Perkins, director of network development for North Sunflower Medical Center. “Our new systems are designed to provide a safety net under every nurse, physician, pharmacist and patient, with unprecedented information access and sharing capabilities that will support high-quality, safe healthcare.”

The technology will allow clinicians to more easily share the collective results from diabetes and cardiovascular patient studies and reports with people who live in communities throughout Sunflower County. The medical center believes that patients will be more engaged in improving their own health once they see statistics that show the impact exercise and healthy diets can have on their lives.

“We’re taking advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime stimulus opportunity to invest in our future and the future of our community with the best healthcare IT solutions available today,” Perkins said. “We are determined to remain a healthcare leader in Mississippi and, with McKesson’s IT expertise, we believe we can set the standard for quality of care.”

“These two systems offer a winning combination for North Sunflower Medical Center and community healthcare providers across the country,” said Jim Pesce, president, Paragon, McKesson Provider Technologies. “Anywhere, anytime access to electronic health records and comprehensive chronic care data opens up a new world of healthcare productivity and connectivity, as well as life-changing care for the people of Sunflower County.”

Article courtesy of NewsMedical.Net

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