University of Mississippi Medical Center, HRSA Announce Partnership

Exciting news for patients and providers in the Magnolia State: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has officially designated the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) as a federal Telehealth Center of Excellence. “The UMMC Center for Telehealth is already a recognized national model for telehealth expansion,” said Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a statement. “This federal designation recognizes that leadership role and will allow UMMC to demonstrate to a broader audience how telehealth can be used to increase patient access to care and decrease costs.”

During a Capitol Hill event last Thursday, Cochran praised his state’s leadership on telehealth. “Mississippians can be proud that our state’s telehealth investments have set such a high standard and that our state is taking the lead in expanding this effort nationally,” he said. “I look forward to the continued partnership between UMMC and the Department of Health and Human Services to promote telehealth research and best practices in Mississippi and nationwide, and I stand ready to help this effort in any way I can.” Telehealth Centers of Excellence, as a press release from Sen. Cochran’s office explains, are designed “to test the efficacy of telehealth services in both urban and rural geographic locations.” More specifically, “the COE would operate varied sites of service, including patients’ homes; examine the benefits to student health of school-based telehealth; [and] establish standards and best practices for various telehealth modes of delivery.” The program was authorized in FY2017 appropriations legislation.

Mississippi’s two senators, Cochran and Sen. Roger Wicker (R), have long been champions of telehealth. As the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Cochran advocated for the Telehealth Centers of Excellence program. For his part, Wicker was one of the lead sponsors of the Reaching Underserved Rural Areas to Lead on Telehealth (RURAL) Act, which is designed to increase the affordability of broadband service for providers treating patients in rural communities. He also co-authored the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, which is aimed at improving outcomes for Medicare patients, and of which Cochran was also an original cosponsor.

Click here to read the press release on the Center of Excellence designation from Sen. Thad Cochran.

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