Telehealth leader named nursing Alumnus of the Year
Published on Thursday, May 10, 2018
By: Amanda Markow
When Michael Adcock, executive director of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Center for Telehealth, decided on a career in nursing, his motivation was not uncommon—to help people. He did just that when he started as a nurse at Batson Children’s Hospital in 1998, but he had no idea he would eventually be helping people across the globe through telehealth. The UM School of Nursing Alumni Chapter honored Adcock’s work by naming him 2018 Alumnus of the Year during a ceremony May 8 as a part Nursing Alumni Week .
Inspired by his first-hand experience with his maternal grandmother’s renal disease, Adcock earned his Associate Degree in Nursing at Hinds Community College in 1997 after graduating from Forest Hill High School in South Jackson. He then attended the School of Nursing at UMMC for his Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2000 and then his Master’s of Science in Nursing in 2003.
“Hinds did a good job of preparing me for clinical nursing, focusing on bedside manner, but UMMC broadened my horizons. The policy course is what made me want to go into administration,” said Adcock.
At Batson, he spent five years in clinical nursing and then made the switch to health care administration. After additional health care administration roles at Halifax Regional Medical Center in North Carolina and West Jefferson Medical Center in Louisiana, Adcock returned to UMMC in 2015 to the Center for Telehealth.
“I wanted to help more people at a time. I realized I could help more people if I could make the leadership environment better,” said Adcock.
The Center for Telehealth has made over 500,000 patient encounters in 68 of Mississippi’s 82 counties possible by connecting patients and caregivers to Medical Center health care providers remotely, in real time, using video calls and interactive tools. Adcock said UMMC’s Center for Telehealth is one of the most comprehensive in the country and in 2017 was named a Telehealth Center of Excellence by the Health Resources and Services Administration, one of two named centers in the country. This allows the center to serve as a national model for telehealth research and resources.
“Our main purpose is to connect people. We connect patients to providers, but also providers to providers,” said Adcock. “We give people access to high quality health care as close to home as possible. We’re just changing the delivery models and the efficiency.”
Adcock credits his nursing training and early work experience with his leadership style today. In his first role as a clinical nurse at Batson, Adcock provided direct patient care, but also worked with hospital administration and nursing and support staff to develop, “Get it Right: A Staffing Methodology.”
Linda Gholston, who served as an administrator at Batson and Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants from 2000 to 2004, said she was asked to change the culture to be more patient-centered and emphasize not only family and patient satisfaction, but also employee satisfaction. Adcock worked with her as a graduate student while he earned his masters, and then as Assistant Hospital Administrator starting in 2003.
“Michael engaged in our culture change work. He was key in this project. He came on board, and about 5 or 6 others did, too, and really bought in and led the charge. In those 4 or 5 years, we had remarkable results. We even had no vacancies at one point,” said Gholston.
“Michael has an enthusiastic ‘fire in the belly’ leadership that he had as a graduate student, and he’s never lost it. So many in health care become jaded, but Michael knows true north and leads toward it every day,” said Gholston.
Adcock has testified on behalf of the Center for Telehealth in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the House Small Business Committee, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He has also traveled internationally including recently to New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland to share UMMC’s best telehealth practices, and bring new ideas home.
Dr. Kaye Bender, president and CEO of the Public Health Accreditation Board in Alexandria, Virginia, was dean of the UM School of Nursing when Adcock was in graduate school, and sees him often in D.C. “I’m so proud to see him grow into the role he has. When I first got to know him, he was a young nurse with energy and knowledge and looking to find his place in nursing,” said Bender. “When I saw him testify about telehealth, I knew he had found his niche, the right blend of health care and administration.”
Adcock said one of the best parts of his work with the Center for Telehealth has been watching the progress, much like he enjoys looking back over a freshly cut lawn. “We get to see how we’re impacting Mississippi. In health care administration you don’t always get to see what you’ve done, but here there’s tangible change,” said Adcock. “And, we have the best team in the country.”
Dr. Kim Hoover, dean of the School of Nursing, said that nurses and nurse practitioners are integral to this work. “Michael and his team are committed to finding ways of using this technology to ensure that things like distance, lack of transportation, and maldistribution of practitioners aren’t barriers to Mississippians accessing the care they need,” she said.
Adcock’s driving force is getting more health care access to people around the state. “I know we can continue to improve the health care of Mississippians. It’s our responsibility at UMMC, and it’s not going to happen with just brick and mortar services. It’s an honor to be a part of that,” said Adcock.
With a role outside of traditional nursing, Adcock was surprised to be named Alumnus of the Year, but said he’s a nurse and always will be and maintains his license in every state in which he’s lived.
“Michael has always been an advocate for nursing and the University of Mississippi School of Nursing. He has exceled in health care leadership, setting the bar for those who look to him for mentorship and guidance. Having a nurse at the table where top level decisions are made is important for the future of nursing and healthcare,” said Hoover.
Bender said she couldn’t have been prouder of Michael than if she was his mother. “Michael shares that [nursing] passion,” said Bender. “We’re not in traditional nursing roles, but we see things through the nursing lens and that shapes how we approach things. I’m proud of him for that.”