AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


Leading Providers of Telemedicine Technology Present at Summit

The Alabama Rural Health Association (ARHA) and the Alabama Partnership for Telehealth (APT) held the 2nd Annual Alabama Rural Health & Telehealth Summit on October 16th thru the 17th in Prattville, Alabama.  The conference provided an excellent opportunity to learn about the current uses and capabilities of telehealth and telemedicine and included updated information on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and more specific information on the Health Insurance Exchange program, Navigator program, and Accountable Care Organization program.

Cecilia Land, Director of Rehab Services, presented a session titled, “Reaching Out to Alabama with Telestroke Services.”  Land discussed the stroke mortality rates in Alabama, and more specifically stroke mortality in the counties that fall inside the Southeastern Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) footprint and its desire to help bring down those rates in the counties surrounding the SAMC Telestroke Hub and their partner spokes in southeastern Alabama.

Levonne Outlaw, SAMC Stroke Network Coordinator, discussed education and training of the individual hospital staffs at the spokes. Initial training proved to be very successful and adoption of the telemedicine and telestroke platforms was well received by the staffs. The initial concern for a potentially long learning curve on implementation was not realized.

Dr. Matt Gwynn, Acute Care Telemedicine, the leading practice-based provider of Telemedicine services in the southeast, discussed the national statistics on stroke and their dramatic impact on quality of life of survivors.  His discussion centered on the unique nature of stroke and how telemedicine can best be implemented to treat this disease. “Stroke is a perfect fit for demonstrating the life saving and life enhancing benefits of telemedicine, given that telemedicine can reduce the time to treat patients in the narrow, 3-hour window, which is so critical to stroke victims”, said Dr. Gwynn.  He went on to share a specific case of a 46-year old female stroke patient at Dale Medical Center and how she had benefited from SAMC’s new telemedicine presence.  Dale Med Center had been live with telestroke not more than a week, and the patient presented into the ER with stroke symptoms, was treated with the clot-busting drug tPA and discharged within 48 hours with minimal long-term neurological damage.

Other key topics were presented by: Gary Capistrant, Senior Director of Public Policy for the American Telemedicine Association and panelists from Auburn University, University of Alabama and Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine.  Updates were presented on the Affordable Care Act and its effects on telemedicine throughout the United States.



Advancing Availability and Quality of Stroke Care to the Underserved

The recent collaboration between AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT), the leading practice-based provider of Telemedicine services for hospitals in the southeast United States, and the Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) is having its desired effect for SAMC patients, providing once unavailable, advanced life saving treatments to stroke patients. The Stroke Care Network, established in Dothan, Ala., in collaboration with ACT, the Southeastern Alabama Medical Center Foundation and the Alabama Partnership for Telehealth provides stroke services for a 240-square-mile swath and includes five “spoke” hospitals located throughout southeast Alabama, southwest Georgia and the Florida Panhandle.  The efforts have proven to be critical for stroke victim patients who were once underserved by the latest in life-saving technology.

The adoption and expansion of Telestroke, other acute Teleneurology support and Telemedicine applications has a significant beneficial impact for healthcare organizations, clinicians and patients alike.  Timely access to specialty Neurological consultations via Telemedicine, help many patients avoid the debilitating effects of strokes and other Neurological emergencies due to late diagnosis or delayed administration of “clot-busting” drugs.

Dr. Gwynn, ACT, Director and Founder of the Stroke Center of Northside Hospital and recent Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine, says, “The new telemedicine health care model is an excellent vehicle to advance the availability and quality of telestroke care to patients who remain underserved throughout the region and all around the country.” In response to their success AcuteCare Telemedicine is making an aggressive push to help other hospitals and networks that don’t have immediate access to neurologists and other specialties.

Dr. Keith A. Sanders from AcuteCare Telemedicine and Director and Founder of the Stroke Center of St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta, says, “We are planning on extending our successful telemedicine platform to an additional two hospitals before the end of 2013 and to an additional 3 hospitals during the first quarter of 2014 as more hospitals and health networks recognize the benefits of sharing specialist services without having to house them on-site.”



If “What” is the Point and “How” Gets Us to the Point, Does “Why” Really Matter?

Achievement of any goal or objective begins with the question: What’s the point?  The answer to the initial question sets forth the purpose for implementing an effort to move forward to an end, or an objective. How is the strategic means to achieving the objective and if the journey is successfully achieved, does it really matter “why” we set out on the mission from the beginning?

In a recent article by Ty Montague, CEO and co-founder of co: and author of “True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business,” he expresses his views on the importance of “why” in terms of storytelling versus storydoing. Storytellers think of a story as the domain of the marketing team. A company’s story is thought to be separate from the corporate strategy and is most often expressed through advertising. Storydoers, on the other hand, think of their story as a strategic asset and a competitive advantage. The narrative of storydoing companies is advanced through every action they take and those companies tend to be on a mission to make the world a better place, a quest that transcends revenue development and maximization. Their customers see and feel this higher goal in everything the company does and it makes them magnetic, creating fierce loyalty in their customers. Leaders and associates of storydoer companies tend to find their work experiences richer and more deeply satisfying and growing evidence suggest that storydoer companies are more efficient businesses that perform better financially over time.

Perhaps the purest example of an industry of Storydoers is those who deliver the broad range healthcare services to their customers, or patients.  Undoubtedly healthcare is a business, a very expansive and lucrative business, and one which requires revenue in excess of cost, or profit, to survive, prosper and prevail in its mission.  But it remains an industry whose practitioners are overwhelmingly called to serve the profession because “why” really, really matters.

Dr. James M. Kiely, a partner in Atlanta Neurology, P.C., AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT) and Medical Director of the Neurophysiology Departments at Northside Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta says, “I am so invigorated when I help a patient and help my Emergency Room (ER) colleagues. We make a real, immediate and meaningful difference every time we do our job. There are few people who can say that about their careers. I don’t like hyperbole but what we get to do every day for a living, rocks!”

“Why” matters.



The 2nd Annual Alabama Rural Health & TeleHealth Summit

The Alabama Rural Health Association (ARHA) and the Alabama Partnership for Telehealth (APT) will be sponsoring the 2nd Annual Alabama Rural Health & Telehealth Summit on October 16th thru the 17th in Prattville, Alabama.  The conference provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the current uses and capabilities of telehealth and telemedicine and will include updated information on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and more specific information on the Health Insurance Exchange program, Navigator program, and Accountable Care Organization program.  Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is scheduled to present the opening address.

Dr. Matt Gwynn, Acute Care Telemedicine, the leading practice-based provider of Telemedicine services in the southeast, will be joined by Levonne Outlaw, Southeastern Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) Stroke Network Coordinator, Dr. Jason Deleon,  SAMC Emergency Medicine physician and Cecilia Land, Director of Rehab Services, in presenting a session titled, “Reaching Out to Alabama with Telestroke Services.”  Dr. Gwynn will review recent patient success stories related to ACT telestroke services, the successful working relationship with SAMC and the future of the telestroke network. The SAMC Network currently includes SAMC and five “spoke” hospitals with plans to expand to additional network partners throughout the Florida Panhandle and rural southwest Georgia.

Featured speakers for the Summit include Davis Lee, National Rural Health Association (HRHA), Martin Rice, specialist in Electronic Health Record implementation and Gary Capistrant, Senior Director, Public Policy at the American Telemedicine Association.

Alabama Partnership for TeleHealth, (APT), is a charitable nonprofit corporation focused on increasing access to healthcare through the innovative use of technology and dedicated to providing an opportunity for TeleHealth services to expand and provide greater access to healthcare to all of Alabama.

The Alabama Rural Health Association (ARHA) is focused on the preservation and enhancement of health to rural citizens in all 67 counties of Alabama. The Summit partners share a common belief that Telehealth holds an exciting promise for providing increased access to quality care for rural Alabama and that TeleHealth is changing the way we think about health and the health care delivery model.

The Summit provides a great opportunity for health care providers to join together in collaboration to improve the health care system.    The Alabama Rural Health & Telehealth Summit 2013 will be held at the Marriott-Legends at Capitol Hill, 2500 Legends Circle, Prattville, Alabama. To find out more about exhibiting or attending the conference visit www.alabamatelehealth.com.



Hacking a Patients Health

The FDA has made medical device cyber security a high priority, even as it stresses that there have been no reported incidents of malicious medical device hacks or of patients harmed by a security-related issue. To think that a malicious attack on implanted medical devises has not yet happened may be a reasonable assumption, but it’s not based on any empirical evidence one way or the other.  In short, it may have happened.

When government officials usually talk about cyber-attacks, they tend to warn of power stations being shut down, planes falling from the sky or financial markets being unable to function. To advance that concern to personal medical devises, it is more than just a little unnerving to patients whose lives depend upon implanted medical devises.  Last year researchers at McAfee, a computer-security firm, said they had found a way to subvert an implanted insulin pump to make it deliver 45 days’ worth of insulin in one dose. The cause of the elementary error, which afflicts many devices, is that they contain hard-coded passwords, making it easier to break in and tamper with the software.

When it comes to improving the security of the software that controls medical devices, however, one unique difficulty is that the software in most devices is closed and proprietary. This prevents rival manufacturers from copying it, but also means that security researchers cannot scrutinize it for flaws. Greater use of open-source software might be one way to improve reliability and security. The FDA requires manufacturers to report security breaches, and has now called upon them to review and improve their security procedures. But it still leaves it primarily up to manufacturers to check the integrity of their software, rather than delving into the code itself. With a host of new medical devices in the pipeline that are essentially add-ons for smartphones, the need to ensure the security of the software components of medical devices will only become more urgent in the coming years.

A prominent hacker who discovered a way to have automatic teller machines spit out cash who was set to deliver a talk about hacking pacemakers and other wireless implantable medical devices, but recently died in San Francisco just prior to a speaking at a security conference in Las Vegas. The headline of his talk was, “Implantable Medical Devices: Hacking Humans,” according to a synopsis, Barnaby Jack had planned to demonstrate his techniques to hack into pacemakers and implanted defibrillators.

We’re getting used to the nuisance that is malicious hacking. We’ve had databases with our personal information hacked, we’ve had our cell phones and tablets hacked, we’ve had our work networks attacked. We’ve seen attempts to hack into our home Wi-Fi networks and our video baby monitors, and not a week goes by that someone doesn’t try to hack into critical government and municipal networks that control such things as the electric grids or air traffic control network.  But given that more of the world is becoming wirelessly networked, there are some truly terrifying prospects when it comes to the hacking of the most personal devices: implanted pacemakers, defibrillators or insulin pumps

Calming news for patients with implanted medical devices is that researchers are working on authentication codes, delivered via the patient’s heartbeat, that are relatively foolproof because the live heartbeat and the heartbeat from the device must match precisely. It would prevent a hacker from using a recorded heartbeat (perhaps lifted from a patient’s EKG) to try and circumvent the system. For all the great good that comes from modern technology, we must remain vigilant to the threats posed by those who seek to use the technology for evil intention.