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100 Navicent Health diabetic patients get tablets as part of new program

Tablets go to 100 diabetic patients as part of a pilot telemedicine program/ Claudia Coco (WGXA)

MACON, Ga. -- Navicent Health is taking part in a new ground-breaking program.

ConnectWell, funded by Cobank, is a program that provides 100 diabetic patients from Georgia's rural second and eighth congressional districts with internet-ready tablets and an unlimited data plan.

It was launched Monday morning.

Patients will be able to monitor their diabetes from home and interact with their primary care doctors through the Robin Health platform.

Dr. Ninfa Saunders, president and CEO of Navicent Health, said at a conference Monday morning that the program is designed to be accessible, affordable and equitable.

Dr. Chris Hendry, executive VP & COO of Navicent Health, said the program will be a way to combine health care and internet access to rural areas.

Kenneth Cutts, district director for Rep. Sanford Bishop (D), said by providing patients tablets with internet access, this will break down time space barriers. In turn, that will cut down on emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Anshu Vaish, CEO of Robin Health, told the success story at Monday's conference of one patient already using the tablet:

ConnectWell is based on the success of a project at the University of Mississippi Medical Center that provided 100 diabetic patients with internet connectivity and access to a cloud-based health monitoring software, so their healthcare providers could remotely monitor their conditions and provide virtual care.

The pilot program resulted in zero hospitalizations or emergency room visits, leading to a cost savings of about $340,000 over a six-month period. The Mississippi Division of Medicaid used this data to predict a savings of about $180 million per year is 20 percent of diabetics on Mississippi Medicaid participated in the program.

Additionally, patients saw, on average a reduction in their HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar levels) of 1.7 percent. This not only represented a marked improvement in patient health but also an over 3:1 return on investment for the hospital.

The ConnectWell pilot program will further test a solution that will benefit both the low-income patient and the hospital by linking internet connectivity and healthcare. EveryoneOn, a national non-profit, guides the initiative nationally and is sourcing the internet service and hardware for the patients served.

Representatives Austin Scott (R) and Sanford Bishop (D) were supposed to be in attendance on Monday morning, but they had to stay in Washington D.C. because of the government shutdown. They sent reptantives in their place.

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