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Major Forum Helps Hospitals Learn How to Implement Successful Telehealth Programs

C Spire partners with Mississippi healthcare groups to convene summit on best practices and funding

Ridgeland, Miss. (October 19, 2016) – While still in its infancy around much of the U.S., using telecommunications technology to transform medical care in Mississippi holds tremendous promise in helping save lives and improving survival rates for thousands of at-risk residents battling chronic health problems.

That was the conclusion of some of the nation’s leading health care experts who gathered in Jackson recently to help over 125 representatives, including Mississippi hospitals, doctors and insurance companies, learn more about how to develop and implement successful telehealth programs.

Speaking at a summit convened by Mississippi-based C Spire, the experts said telehealth helps save lives, improve the quality of healthcare and reduce medical costs. C Spire sponsored the forum in partnership with several major health care industry and advocacy groups to encourage more widespread adoption of telehealth practices in the state.

C Spire is one of the leading advocates for telehealth in the state and provides a variety of technologies to support the program, including wireless communications with over 1,000 cell sites in the state and over 6,000 route miles of fiber optics that supports high-speed voice and data transmissions for hospitals, clinics and doctors.

“Telehealth can make a real difference in the lives of people who struggle with chronic health issues every day,” said Hu Meena, president and CEO of C Spire, which was part of a successful 2014 pilot program with 100 diabetes patients in rural Mississippi that used remote care and patient monitoring to eliminate hospital stays and emergency room visits.

Meena said the collaboration with the University of Mississippi’s Center for Telehealth and Intel Care Innovations was so successful that it has sparked a five-year program expansion aimed at helping individuals struggling with some of the most vexing maladies, including heart failure, asthma, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mississippi has over 767,000 residents on the state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs and routinely appears on lists with the nation’s lowest overall health ranking and the highest incidence of chronic health problems and life-threatening diseases like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.

With 60 percent of the state’s 3 million residents living in rural areas and 37 percent in medically underserved cities and towns, Mississippi is an ideal candidate for telehealth services, according to Mary Katherine Ulmer, office director for the state Medicaid program.

“Most Mississippians must travel an average of 40 minutes just to get access to specialty healthcare,” Ulmer said, noting that the state, which has received an A+ rating from the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) for its progressive laws and regulations, currently covers eligible costs for telehealth, remote patient monitoring, teleradiology, store-and-forward and continuous glucose monitoring services.

“Telecommunications is really the umbilical cord for telemedicine,” said Dr. Jay Sanders, president and CEO of The Global Telemedicine Group and an adjunct professor of medicine at John Hopkins School of Medicine. Sanders was one of the summit’s keynote speakers and is founder and past president of the ATA and one of the nation’s leading experts on connected, virtual care.

“With today’s plethora of wireless and wired technology capabilities ranging from smartphones, tablets and laptops to videoconferencing systems with Facetime and Skype, we have much broader and more comprehensive ways to interact with our patients,” Sanders told summit participants. “Fundamentally, though, we’re still dispensing care.”

Other speakers, including Ed Spencer, director of South Carolina’s successful Telepsychiatry program and Mike Edgeworth, medical director for Cigna Healthcare’s population health initiative in parts of Tennessee, cited the benefits of telehealth in improving access to health care, quality of service, consumer engagement and cost management.

All of the speakers shared best practices and provided background on how to develop, manage and fund telehealth programs and on current state and federal guidelines, laws and regulations that govern telemedicine services.

For more background information on C Spire’s telehealth program and access to presentations and videos from the conference, visit the Summit homepage.

About C Spire
C Spire is a diversified telecommunications and technology services company that provides premium experiences designed specifically for its customers, including wireless communications, high-speed Internet access and a range of other telecommunications products and services to consumers and businesses. This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.