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Mississippi Telehealth Can Benefit Rural Areas

Mississippi Telehealth Can Benefit Rural Areas
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Mississippi’s telehealth programs are being nationally recognized as innovative. MPB’s Alexandra Watts reports on what the service brings to the rural areas.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s telehealth program is being nationally recognized by Health Resources and Services Administration.

Telehealth allows patients to connect with medical professionals remotely over video chat. In rural areas, like the Mississippi Delta, doctors can be scarce. For example, Issaquena County has no primary physicians.

Doctor Tearsanee Davis of UMMC says patients can access medical care from dermatology to psychiatric services with telehealth.

“An example of that would be, ‘We lost our psychiatrist, and we’re having a tough time recruiting a psychiatrist to come in our community.’ What happens then is we go to out psychiatry department and say, ‘Do you have the capacity to do this?’ And if they do, we connect those two organizations using the technology that we have.”

According to Terry Hill, the founder of the National Rural Health Resource Center, Mississippi offers different options within telehealth.

“Another really important one is tele-emergency care where emergency rooms are basically covered," Hill said. "Emergency medical service specialists are providing support to physicians and other providers in rural areas.”

According to the American Hospital Association, telehealth in hospitals doubled from 35 percent in 2010 to 76 percent in 2017.