Mississippi has led the way in telemedicine projects in southern USA for some time with the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s various successful projects attracting well deserved funding. Now the US Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs has announced that a new pilot programme to use telemedicine to reduce wait times for new patients at VA hospitals will take place in Mississippi.
This pilot programme comes in the wake of the highly criticised wait times reported for new patients at VA hospitals in 2014. A CNN report based on internal VA documents claimed that thousands of veterans had to wait more than three months to see a specialist.
Unfortunately the person appointed to run the pilot and oversee the VA hospitals in Mississippi and other Southern states is Dr Skye McDougall, who stands accused of lying to Congress about the wait times in VA hospitals in California that she was running previously. There has been strong opposition to her from many quarters and this may hamper the success of the pilot.
Dr McDougall is reported to have said on Friday that the VA telemedicine project will start in the coming months and that veterans will be able to use smartphones and tablets to connect with healthcare providers for dermatology appointments, check incisions after surgery or for checkups for neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS.