AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog

Before Stroke Strikes

The fight against stroke, the second leading cause of death worldwide and leading cause of disability, begins long before a patient’s arrival to the ER. Awareness by physicians of common modifiable risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia is key to the decrease the incidence of stroke. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), one such relatively common modifiable risk factor, is often unrecognized and underdiagnosed.

OSA is a disorder characterized by repetitive airway collapse, leading to arousals and oxygen distortions. It is well known that when these events occur, there is an increase in sympathetic tone and a rise in systemic blood pressure. OSA has also been found to be associated with an increase in proinflammatory and prothrombotic factors, both of which can lead to atherosclerosis and subsequent cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The results of the Sleep Heart Health Study, a 9 year prospective cohort study designed to determine risks associated with OSA, showed that OSA is an independent risk factor of stroke. It is estimated that over 15 million Americans have OSA, the majority of whom go undiagnosed.

Identifying patients at risk (i.e. those with obesity, loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, etc.) should prompt consultation with a sleep disorders specialist. Appropriate work up and management should be implemented with an emphasis on treatment compliance. Public and professional awareness of the potential dangers of untreated OSA is crucial to a further decrease in stroke related morbidity and mortality.

Atlanta Based AcuteCare Telemedicine Marks Two Year Anniversary

AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT), a leading provider in teleneurology services, reports significant growth despite the dynamic changes in the healthcare industry. The partners at ACT started the business to fill a growing need for 24/7 neurology coverage.   The 4 Board Certified partners, all highly respected and expert neurologists, have shown consistent growth since October 2009.

“The company was founded as Georgia Teleneurology,” commented Dr. Keith Sanders, Partner, ACT. “We rebranded the company in 2011 to align with our mission, vision, and value to offer 24/7 high quality emergency neurological care to facilities nationwide.

ACT’s unique model positions them as a high quality, low-cost provider of teleneurology services to contracted medical facilities. ACT not only contributes to the treatment of acute stroke patients, but also positive revenue growth for the medical facility.  The group’s initial contract led to the successful treatment of many acute stroke victims coordinated with a 261% increase in the contracted facility’s stroke admissions as it gained Joint Commission Primary Stroke Center certification, growing revenue for both ACT and the facility.

ACT marks the anniversary by adding 2 new contracts and announces a partnership with Georgia Partnership for Telehealth (GPT), which will aid in expansion of services to remote areas in its home state where patients have extremely limited access to emergency neurological care.

“With a lot of hard work and diligence, our efforts are being noticed by the industry,” says Lisa Johnston M.D., Partner, ACT. “We continue to practice neurology full time while dedicating ourselves to the expansion of ACT.  We are passionate about what we do which is evident in the success we have achieved in 2 years.”

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Proximity Matters in Stroke Care

A recent study published by the CDC discusses the importance of telemedicine for improving quality of stroke initiatives at hospitals in the Southeast.   The report identified deficiencies in timely access to Joint Commission Primary Stroke Centers (JCPSCs) in the tri-state area of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, part of a region known as the ‘Stroke Belt,’ recognized by public health authorities for having an unusually high incidence of stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers categorize ease of access by measuring 30 and 60 minute drive times to JCPSCs. Not surprisingly, they reported a significant disparity: only 26% of people living in rural areas lived within a 30-minute drive time to a Stroke Center compared to 70% of those in urban areas. They next compared drive-times and stroke death rates within these states. Many of the counties with the highest stroke death rates were outside the 30-minute drive-time areas.

Stroke is a medical emergency. Rapid treatment is a defining factor in achieving better patient outcomes.  Many hospitals are looking to telemedicine, an alternative strategy to expand provision of quality acute stroke care in the region, particularly to underserved populations. Telestroke networks drastically reduce the time it takes for rural citizens to gain access to neurologists who can diagnose and treat the emergency.

Patients living outside of the 60-minute travel window from JCPSCs are still at increased risk.  However, Georgia continually expands the scope of its telestroke networks in an effort to afford proper emergency care access to all citizens statewide.


The Impact of Technology on Neurological Care

Keeping up with technology remains as vital to the physicians of AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT) now as it did 36 years ago.

In 1975, the neurology group which became ACT had the foresight to bring the first CT scanner to Georgia.  Installed in downtown Atlanta, this first-generation EMI scanner revolutionized neurological care in our region. Patients came from across the United States to be scanned on one of the first machines in the United States. The grainy images provided cutting-edge information that helped physicians diagnose and treat, saving lives.

Left: A 1975 brain CT. Right: A brain MRI in 2011. Notice the difference of detail in the images of brain structure in the newer scan.

ACT builds on this tradition of technological innovation by providing the highest quality neurological care to patients at distant hospitals.  Using high-quality video-conferencing technology, ACT’s neurologists swiftly evaluate patients in emergency rooms across the country.  When innovation is part of your culture, it is second nature.

AcuteCare Telemedicine Partners with Georgia Partnership for Telehealth to Extend Reach

AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT), an Atlanta-based teleneurology services provider, is pleased to announce a partnership with Georgia Partnership for Tele-Health (GPT).

Beginning November 1, 2011, ACT will provide emergency consultation services for Taylor Regional Medical Center in Hawkinsville, Georgia using the MOVI remote presence system.

The “Stroke Belt” of the United States traverses the Southeast, where citizens face as much as a 40 percent higher rate of stroke mortality than in other parts of the country. The most significant obstacle to the timely and effective treatment of acute stroke is inadequate access of rural areas to qualified neurologists.

ACT is the only Georgia point-of-service telemedicine provider, serving both urban and suburban hospitals for over 2 years. By providing expert acute stroke care using internet-based telemedicine systems, ACT is able to drastically improve patient outcomes in underserved areas.

“ACT provides a regional solution to rural Georgia’s critical needs in the area of rapid stroke evaluation and treatment. GPT’s telemedicine video systems will allow our Georgia-based neurologists to personally bring their extensive experience to the bedside,” says Keith Sanders, M.D., COO, ACT. “This partnership will lessen the tremendous burden Georgia faces in the heart of the Stroke Belt.”

“The missions and capabilities of ACT and GPT complement each other perfectly,” says James Kiely, M.D., Ph.D., CIO, ACT. “Together, we look forward to helping reduce the deadly impact of stroke in the underserved regions of Georgia and beyond.”

More information on ACT is available at

Georgia Teleneurology Rebrands as AcuteCare Telemedicine

AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT), an Atlanta-based healthcare provider specializing in treatment of acute strokes in underserved hospitals, launched a new brand as it gains market share in the industry.   AcuteCare, formerly Georgia Teleneurology (GTN), has pursued its mission of providing high-quality emergency neurological care via remote presence to Georgia hospitals lacking 24/7 coverage since September 2009.

The company rebranded in June 2011, officially changing its name to AcuteCare Telemedicine maintaining its uncompromising dedication to deliver the highest quality of neurological care to those it serves.  ACT is positioned to become a nationwide leader in the practice of telemedicine.

ACT’s success is largely due to the 4 partners who happen to be board certified neurologists with over 50 years of combined experience.  Dr. Matthews Gwynn, Dr. Lisa Johnston, Dr. James Kiely, and Dr. Keith Sanders have a proven track record managing patients with neurological emergencies, particularly acute stroke, via remote presence technology.  As a result, ACT has contributed to improved patient outcomes.

“We are excited about the launch of our new brand reflective of our personality,” comments Dr. Kiely. “Our mission and intention is clear.  ACT is driving force in the industry, known for quality and commitment to our craft.  The rebrand is a component of that.”

As the landscape of medicine continues to evolve, the need for acute neurological care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year is critical.  In addition to increased patient benefit, ACT also provides an opportunity for hospitals to serve acute neurological patients, ultimately impacting revenue growth.

To learn more about ACT, visit

Hospital Rolls Out New Robot Technology

Local radio station WGST AM 640 “The Talk of Atlanta” recently reported on the expansion of services at Northside Hospital Cherokee, including new technology allowing stroke patients a quicker diagnosis in the precious hours following a stroke.

Mobile Access Consultation Service (M.A.C.S.) is a wireless, remote, mobile robot that allows neurologists to interact with patients, even if they are in separate locations. Neurologist Dr. Keith Sanders of AcuteCare Telemedicine explained on the program how the new technology allows the doctor to be available immediately in a critical situation.

Dr. Sanders noted that through the new technology, neurologist availability, previously a major obstacle to acute stroke care in the emergency room, is becoming less of an issue. The robot is a monitor and camera combo that allows the patient to see the doctor as well as the doctor to see the patient, family and any test results.

Northside Cherokee sees around 70 patients a year with neurological diagnoses such as stroke. Thanks to M.A.C.S., the hospital no longer has to transfer stroke patients to another facility for care.