JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Telemedicine is connecting doctors and patients from afar all over the state. But regulations have been limiting the possibilities of using telemedicine in more emergency rooms. There’s only one way you’ll see telemedicine in a Mississippi ER - if UMMC is the provider. But that could soon change.
Mississippi-based T1 Telehealth has been providing telemedicine in clinics and hospital but decided it wanted to offer its services in ERs.
“We wanted to do it in a way that we thought was a little bit less expensive, a little bit faster," explained T1 Teleheath CEO Todd Barrett. "So, we put together technology to allow us to be able to do that. We were blocked by this regulatory burden. We had a difficult time navigating this labyrinth of regulations.”
They brought on the Mississippi Justice Institute to help navigate it. It’s a Board of Medical Licensure regulation that has prevented an expansion in this area of telehealth.
“Only allowed one provider in Mississippi to provide emergency telemedicine services," described Mississippi Justice Institute Director Aaron Rice. "You had to be a level one hospital trauma center and have an existing air ambulance system in place and so that limited it to just one provider in the state, the state’s academic institution.”
May 9, the Board of Medical Licensure agreed to change the regulation, loosening the previous restrictions and opening it up to other doctors and hospitals.
“Bring access to people that otherwise don’t get it or there’s a delay if they do get it," said Dr. Nathan McIntosh, T1 Telehealth CMO. "The health system is overburdened. And even in our state you have all these rural communities and they’re distant from maybe the access of care that they need.”
The Executive Director of the Mississippi Telehealth Association is pleased with the recent board action.
The regulation changes will still have a public comment period and review by the Occupational Licensing Review Commission before they can be finalized.