Health

Mississippi Emerges as Leader in Telemedicine

University of Miami dermatologist Dr. Anne Burdick checks the computer screen in her Miami office, as she discusses telemedicine, Tuesday, April 8, 2014   Two bills aiming to increase the use of telemedicine and regulate current practices are making their way through the Legislature. Supporters say telemedicine drives down health care costs, while also addressing serious doctor shortages around the state. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
University of Miami dermatologist Dr. Anne Burdick checks the computer screen in her Miami office, as she discusses telemedicine, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

 

(Politico) – Mississippi has a sickly reputation.

The Magnolia State ranks at or near the bottom in most health rankings: worst infant mortality and most kids born with low birth weight; second-to-highest rate of obesity and cancer deaths; second from the last in diabetes outcomes.

But the state is a leader in one aspect of health care: telemedicine. The state’s only academic hospital has remote connections with 165 sites, providing specialized services to some of the state’s most far-flung, medically deprived cities and towns. Mississippi’s telemedicine program, ranked among the seven best in the country, has inspired neighboring Arkansas to take bigger steps in some areas of the field, and the impact of its success is making waves in Washington as well.

Mississippi’s congressional delegation is at the center of a small group of lawmakers championing telemedicine. Trent Lott of Mississippi and former Senate majority leader, is lobbying big for the technology, which could generate fat profits if Medicare starts reimbursing it in a significant way. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, in a visit last December, said the state has “solved the perennial challenge of getting broadband to its most rural areas.”

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