AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog

AcuteCare Telemedicine and Colleton Medical Center Partner To Improve Patient Access To Specialized Neurological Care

JUNE 30, 2014 – ATLANTA, GA: AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT) continues to expand its presence in the Southeastern region with the addition of new client hospitals. Following the announcement of its partnership with Emory John’s Creek, Colleton Medical Center (CMC) in Walterboro, SC recently introduced ACT’s leading specialists to their dedicated staff of medical professionals and patients. ACT in collaboration with the South Atlantic Division of HCA worked to bring teleneurology services to Colleton Medical Center.

Colleton recently debuted a robot named ELVIS, an acronym for “Early Neurological Intervention That’s Successful.” ACT can remotely consult with doctors and patients through ELVIS. While the robot is currently located in the emergency department, “It can be used throughout the entire facility,” reports Colleton Medical Center Emergency Department Director Christy Judy. As a result, ACT is standing by 24 hours a day anywhere they are needed throughout CMC. Connecting hospital-based medical professionals with off-site specialists through the use of new telecommunication technologies is improving access of specialized care for patients in smaller, regional hospitals and medical centers.

“Attracting and recruiting medical specialists is an ongoing challenge for smaller, regional hospitals who must balance the needs of their patients with the financial realities of healthcare in this demanding economy,” says Dr. Matthews Gwynn, Director and Founder of the Stroke Center of Northside Hospital and AcuteCare Telemedicine CEO. “Having the ability to consult with a neurologist remotely for treatment of stroke and other neurological maladies is allowing these hospitals to meet the needs of the patients in the communities they serve. ACT is extremely proud to associate the South Atlantic Division of HCA and the Colleton Medical Center.”

Brad Griffin, CEO of Colleton Medical Center, is also very pleased with Colleton’s new relationship with ACT. “This is our first venture with telemedicine and the experience is proving to be very positive for both the patients and our team of medical professionals at Colleton,” he says. Griffin reports that the hospital staff has found their experience with ACT to be very comforting, easy to work with, and very professional. He sees Colleton’s first telemedicine venture as just the beginning and is looking forward to expanding the utilization of telemedicine to other medical specialties.

“ACT has been focused on providing the highest quality of care to our client hospitals and our patients. We’ve made significant progress in expanding opportunities for acute stroke care to hospitals across numerous states,” comments Gwynn. “We anticipate adding more partners like Colleton who are also committed to advancements in telemedicine.”

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 Can Improve Quality Of Care For Parkinson’s Patients

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of Rochester Medical Center have found that in-person and virtual care patients rated their experiences about the same, although “in-person” patients reported slightly higher satisfaction than patients who’d been treated online. Delivering healthcare using telemedicine conferencing tools can be just as effective as in-person appointments for patients with Parkinson’s disease, according to the study recently published online in JAMA Neurology.

“If this proof-of-concept study is affirmed, the findings open the door to a new era where anyone anywhere can receive the care he or she needs,” said study leader Ray Dorsey, M.D., M.B.A., an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center.

Telemedicine is showing to be particularly valuable to patients in rural and underserved areas of the country where access to chronic disease specialists is limited. Having access to neurologists is vital to the ongoing management of Parkinson’s disease. “Right now half the people in the world with Parkinson’s disease are suffering needlessly because they aren’t receiving care from a neurologist. So rather than asking older individuals with a disabling condition to come to an urban medical center to receive care, we’re saying let’s bring the care directly to the patients,” said Dorsey.

The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) is also working to facilitate virtual Parkinson’s disease care by demonstrating that telemedicine can be very effective in delivering care to not only the Parkinson’s community but also to patients suffering from chronic heart disease and Multiple Sclerosis. The goal of NPF is to identify, from a broad patient advocacy perspective, how federal and state policies can be updated to better support telemedicine as an option for those who need specialized care. For patients suffering from chronic illnesses, telemedicine has the potential to be a very valuable service in terms of quality of life and better management of symptoms.

Amy Comstock Rick, Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) CEO, believes telemedicine could make a tremendous difference in the lives of people with Parkinson’s. “Seeing a neurologist or movement disorder specialist makes a world of difference for someone living with Parkinson’s,” she said.  “Unfortunately, this may mean driving for hours and hours to see one, if there even is a specialist in their state.  We’re exploring issues around telemedicine policy to determine where we can have a real impact on behalf of the Parkinson’s community,” she said.

AcuteCare Telemedicine Expanding Telemedicine Services at Emory Johns Creek Hospital
June 13, 2014, 9:02 am
Filed under: Telemedicine

JUNE 13, 2014 – ATLANTA, GA – AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT), the leading practice-based provider of telemedicine services for hospitals seeking around-the-clock stroke and other urgent neurological care, is proud to announce the addition of telemedicine services at Emory Johns Creek Hospital (EJCH). EJCH is a 110-bed hospital featuring some of the most advanced medical technologies available and serves the city of Johns Creek, Ga., and the surrounding communities.

ACT’s superior emergency teleneurology care will supplement EJCH’s generous menu of medical services, board-certified emergency physicians, hospitalists, cardiologists, and neurologists, advanced imaging capabilities and intensive care.  Dr. Keith Sanders, COO of ACT and Medical Director of the Stroke Center at Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital says, “We look forward to working with the excellent medical staff at Emory Johns Creek. This is the third metropolitan Atlanta hospital and the fifth in Georgia where ACT provides its quality-driven brand of practice-based, teleneurology services. Our new partnership will support the multidisciplinary team of stroke treatment experts at Emory Johns Creek’s CertifiedPrimary Stroke Center by offering 24/7/365, high-quality remote neurological assessment.”

Approximately 795,000 people in the U.S. experience a new or recurrent stroke each year, making stroke the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and theleading cause of serious, long-term disability. With timely access to specialty neurological consultations via telemedicine, patients may avoid the debilitating effects of stroke and other neurological emergencies that occur due to late diagnosis or delayed administration of “clot-busting” drugs. As telemedicine continues to become part of the mainstream lexicon of healthcare, ACT will expand its reach to ensure the best possible care for patients at its partner hospitals.

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.

Dissolve the Debate. It’s Time to Solve the Individual State Licensing Issue

The past few decades has seen a once regional, state and national economic model evolve into one of global proportions. Industries once accustomed to conducting commerce at the state and perhaps national level now freely explore the world’s markets with ease, thanks to an explosion of telecommunication technology that permit even the most remote locations complete global across to products and services. At the turn of the 20th century, the rapid expansion to a national and interstate commerce model required significant change to a myriad state regulations in order to better accommodate the transition to a new national economic order. The changes of that era were not realized without some push-back from the well-established enterprises that sought to preserve their own economic and competitive positions.

Today, the practice of medicine, once the purview of localized practitioners and institutions, is evolving into a national and even international network of medical care givers and healthcare organizations. Telemedicine, the practice of medicine utilizing electronic communication, is revolutionizing the medical care delivery model throughout the nation and the world, crossing state lines and international borders to allow access to advanced medical care to patients once isolated by geography and social economic barriers. In an era of rising healthcare costs, physician shortages and increasing numbers of underserved patients, telemedicine looks to be a viable vehicle to lower cost, improve efficiency and expand access to once isolated populations. While many in the medical industry look to accelerate the trend toward telemedicine and telehealth, some formidable administrative obstacles to the rapid expansion of telemedicine continue to elude solution.

In the era when the practice of medicine almost always took place in face to face meetings and examinations with healthcare givers, the topic of individual state licensing of doctors rarely came to a discussion. But today, the application of restrictive state laws to telemedicine is creating a dampening effect on the practice of telemedicine and increasing the cost of its implementation.  Despite widespread agreement that something needs to change to overcome barriers to interstate practice of telemedicine, a clear consensus has failed to be realized. Some advocate a national licensure scheme and others support various forms of endorsement, mutual recognition and reciprocity. But despite all the debate, a workable and acceptable solution remains elusive. All the talk and seemingly endless study may be coming to an abrupt end.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it is looking at taking a broader role in the interstate practice of telemedicine. Currently, individual states have jurisdiction over the licensing of physicians and medical caregivers. But if the FTC rules that interstate restrictions are anti-competitive, they have a right to intervene if out-of-state telemedicine professionals meet the same standards as those licensed within the state.

Regardless of their respective positions, most in the industry do not support a federal licensing system but, unless all participants in the debate quickly move beyond the talking and posturing stage, federal intervention may just preempt the process of arriving at alternative solution for all involved.

New Rules for Telemedicine Providers in Georgia

The Georgia Composite Medical Board (GCMB) has approved new rules (360-3-.07) for healthcare providers who are practicing telemedicine in the state.

The new rules require doctors to be licensed in the state of Georgia and, in most cases, to have either seen the patient in person or have a referral from another physician, PA or APRN who has seen the patient in person prior to providing the electronic service. The ‘‘in person’’ rule allows exceptions in cases where a patient has been referred by certain types of providers and agencies, such as public school nurses, a community mental health center, the Department of Family and Children’s Services or law enforcement. The rule also includes a broad exception to the in-person encounter requirement if the care provider ‘‘is able to examine the patient using technology and peripherals that are equal or superior to an examination done personally by a provider within that provider’s standard of care.’’

The exceptions were a departure from previous rules that were under consideration by the GCMB. As reported in the Bloomberg BNA, the original provisions offered little in the way of exceptions to the in-person rule but language was altered on the advice of the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) and other groups. Dr. Matthews Gwynn, an Atlanta area neurologist and board secretary for MAG, told Bloomberg BNA, ‘‘As a neurologist providing care for stroke patients in emergency situations, I’ve never seen these patients before, so I said you have to have a mechanism to allow us to see these patients de novo. This version of the rules does that.’’

The new rules were also prompted, in part, as a response to a growing abuse of online prescription pain medications by unscrupulous companies selling prescriptions on demand. Georgia instituted the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in 2013 which allows pharmacists to check to see whether patients are getting prescriptions from more than one doctor or using several pharmacies. Georgia was the second to last state to implement a system to monitor and curb what has become a significant problem all across the country. The new GCMB telemedicine rules specifically exclude the prescription and distribution of controlled substances for the treatment of pain or chronic pain by electronic means.

The GCMB rule requiring telemedicine providers to have a Georgia state license is typical of other states’ requirements. The individual state license rule is often seen as a significant barrier to the accelerated expansion of telemedicine nationwide. Consumer groups traditionally advocate for more open telemedicine policies as a way to improve access to health care for residents of rural areas across the country and in Georgia, where doctors, particularly specialists, are scarce.