Virtual Health Hindered by Lack of Broadband

As virtual health has continued to gain traction the market and become increasingly a mainstream modality of care delivery, many have pointed toward Mississippi as an example of how virtual health is able to impact the quality of care. With large portions of the population both in rural communities and suffering from chronic ailments, the opportunities for virtual health are plentiful. This is in spite of the fact that Mississippi is last in its ranking for internet access and connectivity. According to 2016 data, only 20% of Mississippi households are connected to internets speeds defined as broadband.

This limiting factor will soon play a role in whether or not Mississippi’s status as a trailblazing state in regards to virtual health. More than half of the population in 42 counties lack access to virtual health as a result of this lack of infrastructure. For context, in 2015 10% of Americans didn’t have access to broadband internet, whereas in Mississippi that number was 36%.  In rural areas of Mississippi that number is 68%.  What’s worse, even for those who do live in areas where broadband access is possible they may not be connected.  According to FCC data, only 79% of Mississippi households are connected to broadband internet.

This issue may only be exacerbated with current legislation to eliminate Net Neutrality making its way through the legislative process. For more on this, refer to the Sg2 Expert Insight: Establishing Viable Virtual Health as Net Neutrality Ends.

Technology Partnership Enables Comprehensive Care

While virtual health adoption continues to face obstacles, organizations are partnering to offer comprehensive products for high impact patient populations. American Well and Medtronic recently announced that they will launch patient access to American Well’s virtual health services on MCM’s video-enabled platforms, allowing data to flow between the two parties.   The virtual health solution will provide PHI from MCMS’ remote patient monitoring devices to clinicians performing video visits. Data from these visits will then be able to be incorporated into MCMSA’ clinical management software.

This unique partnership allows both organizations to provide clinicians with more robust data which will inform more accurate care decisions. Ultimately, the partnership hopes to lower the overall cost of care and improve patient outcomes in high cost, high utilizer patient populations. Not an Sg2 member? Contact us to learn more.

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