Healthcare professionals across the state are trying to connect more rural Mississippians with Doctors and Specialists practicing medicine in metro areas. The expansion of the telehealth system could mean more healthcare options and jobs for Mississippians.
More than 60 percent of Mississippi's population lives in rural areas; where access to advanced medical care may not be possible. In an effort to provide more of those individuals with adequate healthcare, officials are turning toward the state's telehealth system -- a network that allows smaller rural physicians to connect with specialists and others via the internet.
Robert Pugh is the Director of the Mississippi Primary Health Care Association. He says the telehealth system has helped the state address some of its biggest health problems.
"Telehealth has a huge possibility of helping us to do a better job of helping those especially with chronic conditions to better manage their healthcare situation." says Pugh. "Both working with their direct care deliverer as well as [at] home working with community health and other social service provider organizations."
Currently, there are more than 100 medical centers, clinics and health centers in rural Mississippi using telehealth. But efforts are underway to expand and update the system by connecting more rural communities to high-speed, broadband internet.
Corey Wiggins is with the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. He says an expansion could act as a job creator.
"I think broadband now, naturally, is one of those key components of infrastructure." says Wiggins. "Through that broadband access connectivity we're really starting to figure out how can we not only improve the community, improve our lives but also create jobs in those communities as well."
Both Pugh and Wiggins went onto say that they don't believe tele-health is a one size fits all solution to the state's healthcare woes. They say the state still needs to adopt policies that will fix some of the health disparities that remain between different communities.