Managing Diabetes with Telemedicine

April 24, 2014

Mississippi is turning to telemedicine to deal with diabetes, says Stateline.

  • Mississippi has the second-highest percentage of residents with diabetes, a disease which cost the U.S. economy $245 billion in 2012.
  • Almost 9 percent of Mississippi citizens have diabetes, costing the state $2.7 billion annually -- almost 3 percent of the state's gross state product.
  • According to the American Diabetes Association, one in every five health care dollars nationwide is spent on diabetic care.

In March, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a law that requires private insurers, Medicaid and state employee health plans to reimburse medical providers for services given via computer and telecommunications at the same rate as services performed in-person.

Insurance reimbursement -- or lack thereof -- is one of the biggest hurdles facing the telemedicine industry.

  • To date, 20 states and Washington, D.C., now require private insurers to cover some telemedicine services, but no state, until Mississippi, had ever required insurers to cover telemedicine at the same rate as in-person services.
  • This month, Tennessee passed a similar bill.

The project in Mississippi -- termed the Diabetes Telehealth Network -- will provide tablets to 200 people with diabetes in the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest parts of the state. Loaded with software from Intel-GE Care Innovations and GE Healthcare, doctors at the University of Mississippi and the North Sunflower Medical Center will be able to monitor diabetics' test results from a distance.

The project costs $1.6 million, and the state hopes that it will be able to expand the program to other parts of Mississippi.

Source: Christine Vestal, "Managing Diabetes with Telemedicine," Stateline, April 18, 2014.

 

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