AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog

Telehealth Can Play a Key Role in Saving Rural Hospitals

No matter the location, rural communities across America have one thing in common. Residents tend to be older and sicker than their fellow, “urbanites”. The introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), designed to provide millions of previously uninsured or underinsured patients access to health insurance, accompanied by Medicare reimbursement cuts and other regulations is beginning to negatively impact rural hospitals. The trend has many pondering; “If you decide to live in a rural community, are you deciding to have a worse outcome if you have a stroke?” asked Dr. Jeff Feit, vice president of population health at the Valley Health system.

To date, 51 rural hospitals have closed in the US since 2010, according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Southern states have been disproportionately affected by the increase in closing of rural facilities. Texas has seen 10 rural hospitals close, while Alabama and Georgia have each lost five just in the past five years. The National Rural Health Association has identified 283 more rural hospitals in danger of going out of business. Many rural hospitals “have been struggling on the cusp for a long time,” said Mark Holmes, director of the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. The future of many rural hospitals is threatened by the ongoing cuts to Medicare and the failure of more than 20 states to expand Medicaid.

Maggie Elehwany, vice president of government affairs for the National Rural Health Association, says significant Medicaid cuts in the past few years have been suffocating rural hospitals. “The greatest crisis right now is the hospital closure issue,” she said. In Kansas, The Kansas Hospital Association has repeatedly told its lawmakers that failure to expand Medicaid will have dire consequences, leading some rural hospitals to shut down. Terry Hill, a senior policy adviser at the National Rural Health Resource Center has predicted, “You’re going to see a predominance of closures in the next year or so in those states that have not expanded their Medicaid eligibility.” Congress is attempting to respond to the crisis by initiating several bills to help rural hospitals recover, but they are receiving little attention by the majority of lawmakers.

In the interim, an increasing number of rural hospitals are looking to virtual healthcare options to remain financially viable and operationally relevant in a new, emerging healthcare delivery model. Telemedicine can provide many of them the means for resuscitating a community’s hospital by connecting rural patients to primary care and medical specialists as well as remote monitoring of many chronic diseases.

Establishing virtual healthcare solutions requires investment, but the investment will pay significant dividends for patients, providers and hospitals by creating broader access to healthcare networks, experts and outlying resources. While some small hospitals are debating whether they can afford to implement telemedicine, others are debating if the hospital can afford not to make the investment.

The 21st Annual ATA Telemedicine Meeting & Exposition

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA), the leading international resource and advocate promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies, announces the dates for its annual meeting and exposition for 2016. For 20 years, the ATA has focused fully on telemedicine solutions to transform healthcare systems. The results of the ATA’s efforts have generated significant impact for overall quality of care, equity and healthcare affordability.

The 2016 American Telemedicine Association Meeting and Exposition is expected to host as many as 6,000 thousand attendees at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, MN. The four day event will get underway on May 14 and conclude on May 17, 2016. ATA 2016 is the largest trade show in the world for healthcare professionals and entrepreneurs in the telemedicine, telehealth and mHealth space. The event will showcase a wide range of educational seminars, speakers and products and services related to telemedicine industry from over 300 exhibitors.

“AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT) looks forward to participating at the event in 2016,” comments Dr. Matthews Gwynn, Partner, ACT. “We applaud the efforts of the ATA in advancing telemedicine opportunities and providing a platform for practitioners to share insights, research, and best practices.”

Established in 1993, The American Telemedicine Association is a non-profit association of individuals, healthcare institutions, companies and other organizations with an interest in promoting professional, ethical and equitable improvement in health care delivery through telecommunications and information technology.

For more information on the event, click here.

ATA Trade Show

Is Telemedicine and Telehealth the Future of Healthcare Delivery?

With the global telemedicine market predicted to soar past the $30 billion mark by 2020 it is becoming increasingly difficult to overestimate the impact telemedicine, or it’s broader application telehealth, is about to have on the broader healthcare delivery model. Much of the considerable focus of discussions thus far has been about the effects of virtual technology on the safety and quality of service to patients, the creation of new methods of payment for virtual services rendered and massaging the concerns of the industries evaluators and licensors. But the ongoing advance of mobility and affordability of communication technology is opening up vast new opportunities to apply telemedical technology to a much larger spectrum of healthcare delivery.

It is true that even if the whole of telemedicine’s promise were to be fully realized, it is likely never to completely replace the face to face relationship between the healer and the afflicted. But with the rising cost of healthcare, anticipated physician shortages and a general increase in demand for healthcare, virtual medical care is attracting a much wider audience of support across the medical care industry. In a recent Wall Street Journal report on private equity firms, investors are increasingly interested in investing in the health-care sector, creating a tipping point for a newer early stage virtual healthcare industry. Until recently the technology, devices, applications, operating platforms and processes have been the elements receiving most of the attention, but with the increasing appearance of virtual telehealth centers at shopping malls and big box retailers, it may be time to expand our thinking on just how dramatic the disruption on the industry will be.

Some well-established healthcare systems are now facing a decision on where to most effectively invest their capital. Should it be in traditional brick and mortar facilities or in the newest telehealth information technology? While advancement of diagnostic technology and ground breaking progress in treatment options has been common in the industry for decades, the “hard” methods of engaging patients by the healer has seen little change since the “industrialization” period of healthcare more than a half-century ago. As mobile health monitoring devices become more reliable and capable, patients with chronic diseases are being monitored, evaluated and often treated without leaving the confines of their home or work areas, reducing the usefulness of centralized physical structures used to connect and treat patients with chronic diseases. Advances in surgical robotics, techniques and technology has resulted in less invasive surgeries being “off-loaded” from heavily supported hospital based surgical suites into less costly outpatient surgical facilities.

Telemedicine has made significant changes in delivery models for clinical and acute care in the last 5 years and is certain to provide expanded application and creative solutions for meeting challenges across the whole of the healthcare delivery spectrum. It’s time to expand our vision for utilizing communication technology in the delivery of healthcare. Telemedicine and telehealth is the future of healthcare delivery.

Atlanta Neurology and ACT Expanding Opportunities for Neurologists
October 5, 2015, 10:40 am
Filed under: News | Tags: , , , ,

Atlanta Neurology, a leading neurology practice, and AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT), the leading practice-based provider of telemedicine services for hospitals seeking stroke and other urgent Neurological care, is offering a rare opportunity to join a well-established practice and also provide telemedicine.

Atlanta Neurology offers a competitive benefits package including health, 401(k), savings, and pension, profit sharing plan, and flexible schedules. The Atlanta-based position extends growth opportunities in the booming healthcare, business, and cultural capital of the Southeast. Metro Atlanta offers a mild 4-season climate, easy access to mountains and beaches, excellent schools, exceptional restaurants, and abundant entertainment options.

Atlanta Neurology is looking for a neurologist who is passionate about helping people by leveraging expertise in general neurology, stroke diagnostics, and general management. Natural leadership in emergency telemedicine, office, and hospital care is also important.

Board certification in Neurology and Vascular Neurology required. Experience using botulinum toxin in headache treatment and other conditions a plus. Atlanta Neurology is an equal opportunity employer. Recent fellows encouraged to apply.

Please send CV with cover letter to


About Atlanta Neurology

Established in 1970, Atlanta Neurology continues to grow in an increasingly competitive environment. Not resting on the laurels of its team of exceptionally rated neurologists (Atlanta Magazine and Top Docs ratings 12 years running), Atlanta Neurology recognized the need for remote stroke and urgent neurology care in underserved markets when telemedicine was in its infancy. Now both a leader in clinical practice–affiliated with Northside Hospital and Emory St. Joseph’s–and a nationally recognized pacesetter in teleneurology, Atlanta Neurology and ACT are a formidable partnership.


About AcuteCare Telemedicine

 Founded in 2009, AcuteCare Telemedicine is a limited liability corporation advancing the opportunity for healthcare institutions to gain access to highly-respected, expert neurologists and telemedicine technologies. AcuteCare offers a range of services including first-rate neurological emergency response care with around-the-clock support and hospital accreditation education. AcuteCare primarily provides remote emergency neurology consultation which fills staffing needs and reduces the costs associated with 24/7 neurologist availability. As a result, healthcare institutions provide full service emergency neurology care and can earn Joint Commission Certification as a Primary Stroke Center.

Telemedicine Creates Opportunities to Improve Access to Neurologists

Discussions over an impending shortage of doctors in America are nothing new. The debate and predictions of an increasing shortage of general practitioners, neurologists, radiologists and other medical specialties has raged for nearly a decade. A study by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), a lobby for medical schools and teaching hospitals, said “the doctor shortage is real” with total physician demand projected to grow by up to 17 percent as a population of baby boomers ages. The nation’s shortage of doctors may rise to between 46,000 and 90,000 by 2025. “The doctor shortage is worse than most people think,” says Steven Berk, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine at Texas Tech University. “The population is getting older, so there’s a greater need for physicians. At the same time, physicians are getting older, too, and they’re retiring earlier,” Berk says.

Neurology is one specialty impacted by the shortage. With stroke being the number four cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States, lack of access to neurologists who specialize in stroke care threatens to deprive many patients the best chance of surviving the effects of stroke. More than 800,000 strokes occur in the United States each year and the number of strokes is expected to grow significantly due to a growing elderly population. The need to encourage more young physicians to specialize in stroke is critical.

Dr. Harold P. Adams, Jr., of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and Dr. Jose Biller, of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine believes, “Unless the number of neurologists focusing their careers on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with cerebrovascular diseases increases, a professional void will develop, leaders of professional neurology associations “need to develop and vigorously support a broad range of initiatives to encourage residents to enter vascular neurology. These efforts need to be started immediately. Time is short.”

Other experts believe that new technologies may hasten the response to the pending crisis and may extend the reach of medicine in ways that will address the problem. Health care professionals can serve more people by using telemedicine technologies to examine, treat and monitor patients remotely as well as providing patients increased access to advanced stroke care. These technologies are already keeping patients out of hospitals and doctors’ offices and providing improved recovery results. Whereas many hospitals with existing neurology departments simply do not have the resources to maintain around-the-clock clinician capacity, AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT), a leading practice-based provider of Telemedicine services, has managed to successfully disrupt the trend and bring patient and physician together, regardless of geographic boundaries. AcuteCare CEO, Dr. Matthews Gwynn says, “Increasing access to stroke specialists requires a certain level of investment in technology and trust in the people behind it. Technology affords healthcare organizations the ability to select a platform that meets budgetary and organizational parameters while extending the highest quality of neurological care to the patients they serve.”

Telestroke is one of the most adopted forms of telemedicine, providing solutions to healthcare providers looking for 24/7 neurology coverage for patients. “Telestroke is filling a gap in terms of the speed and accuracy of stroke diagnosis and start of critical therapy, says Lee Schwamm, vice chair of the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and director of the hospital’s Telestroke and Acute Stroke Services, “Telestroke is the poster child of telemedicine. It’s a really nice example of where the business case is so evident and the benefit to patients is well-documented.”

“The shortage of doctors is definitely impacting the future of medicine,” comments Gwynn. “In response, we remain focused on providing access to quality neurologists to small hospitals in underserved communities as well as to enterprise level healthcare organizations via telemedicine.”

Best Integrated Campaign for Stroke Month Awarded to Bon Secours Richmond

ACT Blog Bonsecour Award

From Left to Right: Bob Silverstein, Enterprise Executive Sales Director, ACT; Dionne Henderson Director of Community & Multi-Cultural Initiatives at American Heart Association, American Stroke Association; Patricia C. Lane MBA, SCRN|Bon Secours Richmond Administrative Director Neurosciences, Bon Secours Richmond Health System; Dr. Stacey Epps, Executive Medical Director Bon Secours Virginia Neuroscience Institute.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recognizes American Stroke Month by focusing on efforts to teach family, friends and coworkers how to recognize the signs of stroke.

This year The American Heart Association awarded Bon Secours Richmond Health System the Best Integrated Campaign Award for 2015. The fourth largest and only faith-based health system in Virginia, Bon Secours Virginia provides full range of services to thousands of Virginians through a network of hospitals, primary and specialty care practices, ambulatory care sites and continuing care facilities across the Commonwealth.

Bon Secours is accustomed to taking a leadership role in Neurological care, having established teleneurology initiatives more than five years ago with a goal to have all of its area hospitals joint commission certified. AcuteCare Telemedicine, the leading practice-based provider of Telemedicine services for hospitals seeking around-the-clock stroke and other urgent Neurological care is collaborating with Bon Secours Neuroscience Institute (BSNI), the neuroscience division at the not-for-profit Catholic health system sponsored by Bon Secours Ministries.

Dr. Keith Sanders, Partner, AcuteCare Telemedicine, comments, “ACT is aligned with Bon Secours and its ongoing commitment to utilizing the finest and latest technology for the treatment of stroke. This award is evidence of their outstanding efforts to promote a fully integrated stroke program that improves awareness of the dangers of stroke and provides the best in acute stroke care to the communities we serve.”

AcuteCare Telemedicine Partners With Emory Saint Joseph’s


EMORY Health Sciences News

Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital launches Telestroke program

ATLANTA—Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital is improving treatment for stroke patients with the launch of a Telestroke program, which allows neurologists to remotely evaluate patients around the clock through real-time conferencing with a Telerobot monitor.

AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT) and InTouch Health have partnered with Emory Saint Joseph’s to bring these extended teleneurology services to the hospital. This virtual, high-tech clinical care includes a camera, microphone and speaker in order for the physicians to communicate directly with patients and provide a rapid diagnosis.

The faster a patient receives the proper treatment for stroke, the better the chances for recovery. With this new telemedicine program at Emory Saint Joseph’s, patients may avoid the debilitating effects of stroke that occur due to late diagnosis or delayed administration of clot-busting drugs.

“The advancements in teleneurology not only allow us to access more patients in need of our specialized care, but improves patient outcomes overall,” says Keith Sanders, MD, medical director of Emory Saint Joseph’s Primary Stroke Center. “This new collaboration with Emory Saint Joseph’s is sure to have a significant impact on the patients and communities we serve.”

Patients arriving in the emergency room exhibiting signs of stroke such as numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, trouble speaking and walking or other symptoms, will have the Telerobot placed at the foot of their bed, so the physician has the ability to assess their condition and communicate treatment recommendations immediately.

Along with Sanders, fellow AcuteCare Telemedicine physicians Matthews Gwynn, MD, Lisa Johnston, MD and James Kiely, MD are on-call 24/7 to work with the Primary Stroke Center Team at the hospital. During the evaluation, the physician asks the patients if they have had any difficulties with speaking and movement, and then encourages them to perform basic tasks, such as lifting their arms and legs and touching their fingers to their nose.

Once the evaluation is complete, the physician makes a diagnosis and communicates treatment recommendations to emergency medicine doctors and the Primary Stroke team members.

“Time is brain,” says Regina Minter, RN, Quality Management Specialist for Emory Saint Joseph’s Primary Stroke Center team, stressing the importance of a rapid stroke diagnosis and treatment. “The Telestroke program will enable us to give tPA in a quicker amount of time for the benefit of our patients,” she says about the FDA-approved medicine that works by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived. If administered within the first three hours, tPA may improve the chances of recovering from a stroke.

Emory Saint Joseph’s treats more than 400 stroke patients a year, and joins Emory Johns Creek Hospital as the second hospital within Emory Healthcare to offer the Telestroke program. Since 2009, Emory Saint Joseph’s has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center, and is designed to provide emergent and acute stroke care. The multidisciplinary team includes ancillary, emergency and neurovascular services, a clinical decision unit, neurovascular units and a designated ICU.

Emory Saint Joseph’s has been recognized on the “Target: Stroke Honor Roll” by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA), meaning 50 percent of ischemic stroke patients arriving at the hospital received tPA (door-to-needle time) within 60 minutes of arriving. The AHA/ASA also recognized Emory Saint Joseph’s with the “Get with the Guidelines-Stroke” Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for treating stroke patients with 85 percent or higher adherence to all “Get with the Guidelines-Stroke” achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods.

Stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

Since the inception of the Telestroke program at Emory Saint Joseph’s, patients have already benefitted from the rapid response of the neurologist, which takes an average of four minutes. “The first day we launched the Telestroke program, a patient was admitted with acute symptoms of stroke. After careful assessment, we were able to administer tPA immediately with great success,” Sanders says.

About Emory Saint Joseph’s

Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1880, and is Atlanta’s longest serving hospital. The 410-bed acute-care hospital is recognized as one of the leading specialty-referral hospitals in the Southeast. As one of only three hospitals in the world to earn a fifth consecutive Magnet designation for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, Emory Saint Joseph’s is also a leading provider of progressive and innovative medical care in a range of specialties from oncology and orthopedics to cardiology.

Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital is a member of Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia.

Media Contact: Mary Beth Spence,, 678-843-5850


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