AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


The Building Momentum of Telehealth

Some proponents of telehealth are predicting that 2015 will be the year consumers will discover the convenience and cost benefits of accessing common health care through a virtual encounter. Telehealth has been reported to be on the precipice of rapid expansion for several years now, only to have the predictions fall short of expectations, mainly due to an established industry infrastructure that seemed to be well behind the present day technology curve. As service reimbursement, licensing and technical issues continue to fall-away many predict the time for a break-out in telehealth is upon the industry.

Entrepreneurs are taking the lead in providing opportunities for consumers to access common medical care services through virtual technology. More than 200 entities have entered the “doctor on call” market, connecting patients with a doctor for remedies for common every day ailments. In some parts of the country the service is becoming routine.This year more than 300,000 users will connect with a medical care provider over the internet, with that number predicted to grow to more than 7 million by 2018 as consumers discover the ease of use, convenience and lower costs. The initial concern that consumers would resist abandoning the traditional face-to-face office visit with their doctor has quickly dissipated as savvy; tech accepting consumers embraced the convenience of the new experience. The momentum continues to build, but is the other side of the doctor patient equation as prepared and eager to accept and embrace the new technological aspect of healthcare delivery?

For decades medical care has become increasingly industrialized and structured, primarily out of a need to control costs and manage available resources effectively and efficiently. The personal relationship between care giver and patient suffered as time was allocated to attending to increased numbers of patients. As primary care physicians integrate virtual encounters into their practice of care, the technology promises to provide new opportunities to once again place the relationship at the center of the care delivery. The addition of virtual encounters to the doctor/patient relationship promises many challenges to the largest and arguably the most important segment of the medical care industry, the general practitioner (GP), however, delegating the majority of follow-up or less critical visits to telecommunication may leave more time for developing the quality of the personal relationship through the face to face visit.

The clamor from the consumer is loud and clear but the growth rate of telehealth may be more dependent upon the medical professional’s willingness and preparedness to lead the way to the advancement of the new healthcare delivery model.

Your patients appear to be ready, are you?



Technology to Play Significant Role in Helping Solve China’s Healthcare Woes

As impatient telemedical advocates in America continue to work around barriers to rapid advancement of what they recognize as an historic opportunity to revolutionize the nations delivery of healthcare, medical professionals inside the world’s largest nation look admiringly at the potential that communication technology could have on their nations broken healthcare system.

China’s huge population of 1.4 billion people is scattered throughout one of the planets largest landmasses, creating significant variances in the quality and available of healthcare. In a country without a modern intra-country transportation system of modern highways, closing the distance-gap to receiving medical care can be exponential when compared to countries like the United States.

Technology, from electronic patient records to remote healthcare, is already widely used in developed markets such as the United States and Europe, but China lags far behind much of the developed world. However, China’s healthcare management system is determined to catch-up with the rest of the world. The sector is experiencing a 40 percent annual growth and is expected to reach $38 billion by 2019, although progress is hampered by more than money, distance and time.

The country’s government owned healthcare system is strapped with chaotic patient data information systems, underfunded rural healthcare facilities and overburdened urban hospitals. China’s more than 25,000 hospitals are facing a serious shortage of doctors and healthcare professionals. Low pay and long hours often exaggerate an already stressed doctor-patient relationship and magnify the difficulties of accessibility and quality of service. Yan Jianhua, who oversees the remote healthcare program at the state-run Hangzhou hospital says, “Technologies like remote health fit China’s current situation because we have a large country with a rural-urban gap and medical resources spread unequally,”

A successful technology makeover will be expensive, requiring the state, private investors and corporations to step up with the $5.5 billion in estimated new capital that will be needed over the next three years to help close the gap.

Communication technology has a key role to play in resolving some of the issues the world’s largest country is facing. It will all take time, and money but Beijing appears to recognize that technology is a potentially significant ground gainer for solving many of its healthcare challenges.



A Telehealth Summit: Transforming the Delivery of Healthcare

The third-annual Alabama Rural Health & Telehealth Summit is scheduled for October 15 through October 17, 2014 at the Embassy Suites in Birmingham, AL. The Summit is sponsored by the Alabama Partnership for Telehealth (APT) and is the only statewide gathering of telehealth advocates in Alabama. This year’s theme is “Transforming the Delivery of Healthcare” and will feature a diverse and experienced group of presenters who will discuss the value of telehealth technology and how it is revolutionizing the delivery of healthcare across rural and urban America.

The Summit is open to primary and specialty care physicians, advanced practice nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, medical care facilities administrators and anyone who is interested in learning more about healthcare reform through the application of modern telecommunication technology. More than a dozen topics and forums will be available for attendees over the three day summit, featuring the foremost experts in telemedical services and technology. The Summit is a great opportunity to learn more about state, regional and international Telemedicine initiatives.

On Thursday, October 16, James Kiely, PhD, MD, Chief Information Officer, AcuteCare Telemedicine, will moderate and present a session titled “The Reality of Telestroke: Real People, Real Results.” Dr. Kiely will be joined in the presentation by Cecilia Land, Division Director, Rehab Services, Southeast Alabama Medical Center, and Steven L. Skeen, BSN, CNO, Mizell Memorial Hospital.

Dr. James Kiely is board certified in Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology and is the medical director of the neurophysiology labs at both Northside and St. Joseph’s Hospitals, and a partner at Atlanta Neurology in Atlanta. He was recently named one of America’s Top Doctors by US News and World Report, as well as being named a “Top Doctor” in Atlanta by Atlanta Magazine for the past five years. Dr. Kiely also serves as the Chief Information Officer for AcuteCare Telemedicine, LLC, an Atlanta-based corporation advancing the opportunity for healthcare institutions to gain access to expert neurologists and telemedicine technologies for 24/7/365 emergent neurological care.

Registration is available online for all those who wish to attend. The Embassy Suites Birmingham-Hoover is located at 2660 John Hawkins Parkway, Birmingham, AL 35244. For additional information on the Summit, contact Samantha Haas, Alabama Partnership for TeleHealth, Inc.



AcuteCare Telemedicine and Coliseum Health System Partner To Improve Patient Access To Specialized Neurological Care

OCTOBER 2, 2014 – MACON, GA: AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT) continues to expand its presence in the Southeastern region with the addition of two new client hospitals. Coliseum Medical Centers (CMC) and Coliseum Northside Hospital (CNH) of Macon, GA, have recently introduced ACT’s leading neurological specialists to their dedicated staff of medical professionals and patients. The two facilities are associated with the Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the nation’s leading provider of healthcare services.

HCA is comprised of locally managed healthcare facilities that include about 165 hospitals and 115 freestanding surgery centers in 20 states and England. The more than 200,000 HCA medical professionals are committed to the delivery of high quality, cost effective healthcare in the communities they serve.

Coliseum Northside Hospital recently introduced a robot named TESS, or “Telestroke Station” to its staff and patients. TESS, an InTouch Health premium RP-Vita robot, can be stationed throughout the facility to remotely connect Coliseum’s dedicated medical team with ACT’s experienced neurological specialists 24 hours a day. Coliseum Northside Hospital’s sister facility, Coliseum Medical Centers, uses an identical robot named Bazinga meaning “an exclamation indicating a successful outcome”. 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. April Watson, Sepsis & Stroke Coordinator at Northside Hospital says, “The team of doctors at ACT are very professional and are great to work with. We look forward to teaming up with them to provide our patients the best in telestroke care.”

“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 chief executive officer. “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 with Coliseum Medical Centers and Coliseum Northside Hospital.”

“ACT has been focused on providing the highest quality of care to our client hospitals and our patients. We are continuing to expand opportunities for acute stroke care to hospitals across nine states,” comments Gwynn. “We look forward to providing the most advanced telestroke care to more partners like Coliseum Medical Centers and Coliseum Northside Hospital who are also committed to advancements in telemedicine.” This announcement follows ACT’s recent partnerships with Emory John’s Creek and Colleton Medical Center (CMC) earlier this year.

 

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.

About Coliseum Health System

Owned by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Coliseum Health System is comprised of Coliseum Medical Centers and Coliseum Northside Hospital, two medical/surgical campuses with a total of 413 beds. The hospitals feature an expansive range of state-of-the-art services designed to meet the comprehensive medical needs of central Georgia. Both facilities include a 24-hour emergency room, inpatient and outpatient surgery options, rehabilitation programs, and diagnostic services. In addition, Coliseum Health System’s breadth of care options includes specialty facilities such as the Coliseum Heart Institute, an advanced cardiac center offering all services from non-invasive cardiology to open heart surgery, Coliseum Primary Stroke Center, Coliseum Orthopaedic & Spine Institute, Coliseum Cancer Institute, Coliseum Robotic Institute, Georgia Bariatric Center, Coliseum Diabetes Management Center, Coliseum Center for Pelvic Health, Coliseum Rehabilitation Center, and the Family Ties Birthing Center, which includes a level III neonatal nursery. The Coliseum Center for Behavioral Health provides treatment to adults with psychiatric and addiction issues through inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as, a specialty program for senior adults.   http://coliseumhealthsystem.com



AcuteCare Chief Operating Officer Dr. Keith A. Sanders Providing Quality Care In His Hometown

0924 Dr Sanders

For Dr. Keith A. Sanders, it is a pleasure to care for patients locally and worldwide, from his hometown of Atlanta, GA.

“One patient recently told me, ‘The last time I saw you, you were up at Lake Lanier in your father’s arms’,” Dr. Sanders says. “It’s a small world and Atlanta has grown a lot. But it’s nice to have a connection with people like that.”

The homegrown physician is President of Atlanta Neurology and Chief Operating Officer of AcuteCare Telemedicine.

Healing others is part of Dr. Sanders’ heritage. His uncle was a general surgeon and his grandfather and other uncle were dentists. “My grandfather got me summer jobs at Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, working in the operating room,” Dr. Sanders remembers. For him, medicine was a natural career choice, “and I’m glad I made it.”

Dr. Sanders graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, and went on to medical school at Emory University. He completed his Neurology residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. His fellowship in Neuromuscular Disease was at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. He is board-certified in Neurology, Electro Diagnostic Medicine, and has subspecialty certification in Vascular Neurology. He is director and founder of the Stroke Center of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta and former chairman of the Ethics Resource Committee.

“I was drawn to the brain and nervous system,” Dr. Sanders says of his choosing Neurology. “There was a lot of fertile ground there. A lot of enigmas and curiosity to pursue.”

Dr. Sanders and wife, Theresa, a nurse and a cardiology research coordinator at Emory University Hospital, have had robust discussions, “about which organ is more important – the heart or the brain,” he says. “We’ve decided they are both important.”

They have a daughter and son in college, and two Jack Russell terriers. In what spare time he finds, Dr. Sanders enjoys walking, swimming, hiking and traveling. On his bucket list is a long overdue return trip to the Caribbean Islands.

He is still inspired by mentors like Dr. Richard Frank, a family friend, now retired. “Dr. Franco was a great humanist,” Dr. Sanders says. He admires Dr. Frank’s approach to, “Identifying the patient who has the disease, not just the disease the patient has.”

According to Dr. Sanders, gravitating to providing telemedicine services was a gradual process for AcuteCare’s four founding partners. “We asked ‘What is telemedicine,’ and at that point the four of us were curious enough and we saw potential in this new technology. So we took the ball and ran with it,” Dr. Sanders says. “We’ve been able to find our way in the business world. It’s a learning adventure and the beauty of it is, we’re really practicing Neurology on a broader scale. It’s the same as our other business (Atlanta Neurology), practicing neurology, just a different way of doing it.”

Technology bridges the distance between remote telemedicine and patients and families in an Emergency Room. “The interaction between patients and families and us with the two-way, secure videoconferencing system that we have, it’s the same as being there,” Dr. Sanders says. “The Neurologic exam for stroke and emergency Neurology can be as safely and reliably done remotely as it is in person,” he adds. “I don’t think we miss anything by not being there.”

For the doctors of AcuteCare Telemedicine, time is of the essence. “When we see these patients it’s in an emergency setting and we have to quickly evaluate if they are eligible for the new stroke treatments,” Dr. Sanders says. “You know the mantra, ‘time is brain.’ For every minute that the brain is deprived of blood supply, one million nerve cells are dying.” Establishing a doctor-patient relationship is critical. “It’s an immediate and intense rapport that you establish and they are looking to us as a specialist, and they are very trusting and we’re very honest with them. It’s very gratifying to be able to help people in that immediate situation.”

Dr. Sanders describes the atmosphere with his partners at AcuteCare as one of collegiality, information-sharing, and cooperation. “We promote a practice-based telemedicine service. We share the responsibility to the patients at the hospitals that we provide the service to. Just like we share our practices in person,” he says. “It provides a better quality of care than a staffing based model where the telemedicine Neurologist one day may be in Texas; the next shift he’s going to be in Florida; and the next shift in New Jersey.”

Dr. Sanders is fortunate to find his motivation in the fact that, “I still enjoy what I do,” he says. “Find a job that you enjoy – never work a day in your life. My partners are critical. Providing a high level of care to our patients, there’s intellectual stimulation to be able to use our specialized knowledge to help people.”