Treating diabetes with telemedicine
As annual costs associated with diabetes continue to rise, government officials are looking for ways to save money while not compromising care.
Enter telemedicine - the new trend that states like Mississippi have begun to adapt, where patients manage diabetes remotely via the computer.
Republican governor Phil Bryant, along with the University of Mississippi and a handful of private technology partners, announced a plan earlier this year to use telemedicine to treat diabetes. In March, Bryant signed a law that required private insurers, Medicaid and state employee health plans to offer reimbursement for telemedicine services.
“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,” Bryant said.
How does it work?
Patients who participate in the telemedicine program are given a baseline exam and a treatment protocol. Using home glucose-testing kits, they will transmit their results online to hospitals, along with their weight and daily blood pressure.
Medical staff can then monitor patients' progress and offer advice or make changes in the treatment plan. Using video conferencing, the patient and doctor can connect to discuss problems, progress, or ways to improve the patient's condition.
According to Dr. Kristi Henderson, the University of Mississippi Medical Center's chief of telemedicine and project leader, other states have already shown interest in the telemedicine concept for diabetes treatment. The goal is to create a model and replicate it to work in any medical setting, she explained.
"If we can do it in Mississippi, where chronic disease is at its worst, where poverty is at its worst, and where transportation and workforce issues are at their worst, we can make it work anywhere," Henderson noted.
The cost of implementing the program is estimated at $1.6 million, but will decrease once a working model has been established, she said.
Source: Government Technology
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