C Spire and the Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center have collaborated to create a telehealth app that could provide an alternative to doctor or hospital visits. The C Spire Health app could be particularly useful to rural residents and the uninsured, who will be able to use the app to connect via their smartphone for a live video session with a UMMC clinician, who will be able to evaluate and prescribe treatment for over 20 common, minor medical ailments such as the flu, allergies and insect bites.
Video appointments will cost $59 and the clinician will be able to send prescriptions to a pharmacy located near the user. The app, which is available on Google Play and Apple App stores, can run on any smartphone running Android or iOS.
Virtual clinician visits are available from Monday to Friday from 7 AM to 9 PM and Saturday from 8 AM to 5 PM. Patients determined to have serious or chronic health conditions will be directed to their personal doctor, a primary care physician, specialist or local hospital emergency room.
Mississippi is one of many rural states in which visiting a doctor can be difficult or even impossible. Telehealth has been a goal of providers for years, even before the fast technological evolution of the past decade. The new technology is quickening the pace.
“We must do a better job of meeting people at their point of need for health care, especially in our state where many people live in rural areas with often limited access to available transportation,” Ryan Kelly, the Executive Director of the Mississippi Telehealth and Rural Health Associations, said in a press release.
C Spire is a mobile and fiber broadband provider throughout Mississippi and the southeast. This telehealth project is part of the carrier’s Tech Movement initiative, an effort begun in 2017 to help move the region forward through improvements in broadband access and workforce development.
UMMC Health is one of two accredited Telehealth Centers of Excellence in the state. It is expected that more medical professionals in Mississippi will adopt the program over time.
Telehealth is becoming more common. In June, Verizon announced that it will offer veterans who are subscribers unlimited and free access to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ VA Video Connect telehealth app. Two months earlier, American Well, a platform provider, released research that said 22% of physicians have used telehealth to see patients. The firm said that the percentage will balloon to 61% by 2022.