AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


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.”



Sharing Experience and Knowledge on Cerebrovascular Diseases

It is even a busier time than usual for medical professionals who are focused and dedicated to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The American Heart Association (AHA) will be sponsoring The International Stroke Conference, “Connecting the World to Stroke Science,” on February 11-15 at the Music City Center in Downtown Nashville. It is the world’s largest meeting of medical professionals dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease and will attract more than 4,000 cerebrovascular experts from around the world including neurological specialist from AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT). The leading practice-based provider of telemedicine services for hospitals seeking around-the-clock stroke and other urgent neurological care will be an exhibitor at this premier AHA event.

On March 25, 2015 the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth will be conducting their 6th Annual Spring Conference in Savannah, GA. The conference is a great opportunity for Primary Care Providers, specialty physicians, advanced practice nurse practitioners, Physician Assistants, Registered Nurses and medical facilities administrators to learn how the most up-to-date telecommunications technologies are impacting the delivery of stroke care and other healthcare services. Attendees will experience telemedicine in an applied framework, build network relationships and gain exposure to the latest in telehealth hardware and software technology. The conference will include a Grant Writing Workshop and will feature presentations from foremost experts in teleneurology.

Dr. Keith A. Sanders will be presenting a talk at the conference entitled “Outcome Analysis Demonstrates the Value of Telestroke”. Dr. Sanders is Director and Founder of the Stroke Center of St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta and former Chairman of the Ethics Resource Committee and a partner in Atlanta Neurology, P.C. and AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACA). “As medical practitioners, it is incumbent upon us to not only apply the latest techniques and technologies to the treatment of our patients but to share our experiences and knowledge with the greater medical care community on how state-of-the-art telestroke technology is advancing cardiovascular care and saving lives,” says Dr. Sanders. “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to share my experiences on improving and expanding access to quality, advanced cardiovascular care to patients no matter where they live.”

The GPT Spring Conference will begin on March 25, 2015 and run through March 27, at the Hyatt Regency-Savannah at 2 West Bay Street, Savannah GA 31401. Online registration is now open. An array of exhibitor opportunities is now available. Additional information is available by contacting Samantha Haas at samantha.wainright@gatelehealth.org.



Be a Catalyst in the Fight Against Stroke!

In 1924 when a few dedicated physicians and social workers set out to collectively focus attention and study on cardiovascular disease, the most common treatment for people with heart disease was often total confinement to bed rest. At the time, Paul Dudley White, one of six cardiologists who founded the American Heart Association said, “We were living in a time of almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease.” Today the American Heart Association (AHA) is the oldest and largest association dedicated to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The AHA will continue to promote their fight on February 11-15 at the International Stroke Conference in downtown Nashville, TN. The International Stroke Conference, “Connecting the World to Stroke Science,” is the world’s largest meeting of medical professionals dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease.

The conference provides attendees the opportunity to network with more than 4,000 cerebrovascular experts representing over 60 countries; it offers outstanding programming that delivers more than 1,500 compelling presentations in 21 categories emphasizing basic, clinical and translational sciences as they evolve toward a more complete understanding of stroke pathophysiology with the goal to develop more effective prevention and treatment. The Conference will offer numerous informative sessions in clinical, basic science and other specialized topics.

Those who plan on attending can maximize their conference experience by participating in one of the three pre-conference symposia:

The State of the Science Stroke Nursing Symposium

Pre-Conference Symposium I: Stroke in the Real World – Working Man Blues: Challenges in Inpatient Stroke Care

Pre-Conference Symposium II (Students/Trainees/Early Career Professionals): Emerging Trends for Stroke Trials: Biomarkers, Adaptive Trial Design, Repair Trials, and New Endpoints

Registration is now open for this premier educational event dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease. The event will be held at the Music City Center in Downtown Nashville, TN on February 11 thru 15, 2015.

Be a catalyst in the fight against stroke, become a Professional AHA/ASA Member now and save on registration for the 2015 International Stroke Conference.



Think of Your Brain!

It is without a doubt the most vital organ in the human body, but too often we neglect the importance of taking good care of our brain. The development and organization of the brain are incredibly complex, but the intricacies of this central body belie the simplicity of its proper day to day caretaking. We only get one – why not give some thought (pun intended) to it.

Prevention of traumatic head injuries is likely the most obvious consideration for avoiding significant damage to the brain. Unfortunately, we cannot always predict when an accident might occur, but we can take basic steps like fastening our seat belts while riding in automobiles and wearing helmets when engaging in physical activities carrying risk of trauma. Beneath the skull, we must be concerned with degenerative disorders of the brain affecting motor skills and cognition, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s. Depression and anxiety also afflict millions of individuals across the country. It is important to remember that although our fast paced, high-stress lives can seem overwhelming, these conditions are chemical, and there are measures we can take to mitigate their negative effects.

Perhaps the most severe threat to the brain is stroke and other cardiovascular disease. The American lifestyle has taken a significant toll on the health of the blood vessels that deliver vital oxygen and nutrients to the brain. We have seen it most exaggerated throughout the southeastern US, a part of the country known as the ‘Stroke Belt,’ where residents face significantly higher rates of stroke morbidity and mortality.

The experts offering advice to citizens on how to minimize their risk of stroke sound like a veritable broken record; sleep more. Eat better. Exercise. Although stroke care has made huge advances in technology and technique over the course of the past decade, there is truthfully no more powerful plan of action than that of prevention. Telemedicine may soon be able to play a bigger role in opening lines communications between physicians and patients at risk of having a stroke, helping them take the necessary steps to avoid an emergency situation where the health of their brain and their life are in danger. As neurologists become more familiar with the advantages of new telemedicine technologies, they are realizing that the “ounce of prevention” is more readily available than ever before.



Acutecare Telemedicine CEO Featured Speaker For American Heart Association’s Stroke Webinar Series

Dr. Matthews Gwynn, CEO of AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT), appeared as the featured speaker for a webinar series produced by the southeast affiliate of the American Heart Association. The presentation, entitled “Extending Stroke Care through Telemedicine,” was delivered to several hundred hospital administrators and medical staff throughout the southeast and other areas of the U.S.

Dr. Gwynn’s webinar presentation, hosted by Mary Robicheaux, Vice-President of Quality Improvement for the American Heart Association southeast affiliate, focused on the advancement of teleneurology in the treatment of acute stroke patients. Dr. Gwynn discussed the positive effects that teleneurology continues to have on advancing stroke treatment, such as the increased use of the clot-disolving medication tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), as well more advanced neuro-interventional procedures known as thrombectomies, performed by neuro-interventionalists at such world-class facilities like Grady Hospital’s Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center in Atlanta, GA.

“Advanced treatments for acute stroke cases are becoming more and more prevalent with the advent of greater technology and treatment procedures,” stated Dr. Gwynn.  “The medical community observed this within the cardiology field over the past couple of decades, and now we are starting to see similar advancements in stroke care via neurocritical care and interventional neuroradiology.

In a continued effort to expand teleneurology in the southeast, Dr. Gwynn and the other neurologists of ACT serve as critical evaluators at partner hospitals of stroke cases that may require advanced interventions such as those discussed in the webinar.

For more information about AcuteCare Telemedicine, visit www.acutecaretelemed.com.



What Stroke and Heart Attack Have In Common

Because brains and hearts are highly dependent on oxygen-rich blood to survive, current guidelines from the American Heart Association call for treatment in under an hour for both strokes and heart attacks. The phrase “Door-to-treatment” refers to the time it takes from a patient’s emergency room arrival to the initiation of treatment.

In heart attacks, “door-to-balloon” more specifically refers to the use of an angioplasty balloon to relieve a constricted or obstructed blood vessel. In cases of stroke, the key phrase is, “door-to-needle,” referring to the administration of the intravenous medication tPA. The two different organs, with different vascular beds and dealt with by different teams of specialists within a hospital, remain subject to very similar constraints in time and quality measures.

The care of these patients requires a team approach with emergency room nurses and doctors rapidly initiating the process. At all hours, parallel specialized teams must stand ready to reverse critical brain and heart ischemia. Telemedicine technologies have proven to be an efficient solution in allowing very rapid access to quality care.

As leaders in the fight against the morbidity and mortality of these emergencies, AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT) leads the stroke team at several hospitals, ensuring that proper treatment is available to patients within the critical hour. In addition, ACT monitors stroke care and provides important feedback to the hospitals it serves, because constant evaluation of the timeliness and quality of treatment is a crucial component in reducing the “door to needle” time to help save lives.



Health Benefits of Medical Outsourcing

Outsourcing often carries a negative connotation as a cost-cutting measure, but can also serve as a solution for quality improvement. Relative to the healthcare industry, effective outsourcing can lead to cost reduction and improved quality of care.

As early as February 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial by Robert Wachter, M.D., Vice-Chairman of the UCSF Department of Medicine, describing the impact of medical outsourcing. He noted that “…healthcare’s version may offer substantial advantages for patients… Outsourcing could also provide patients with access to specialized care that would otherwise be unavailable.” Particularly beneficial in emergent situations where time is of the essence; the type of ‘outsourcing’ Dr. Wachter describes leads to better patient outcomes at a reduced overall cost.

Telemedicine, the evaluation of patients via the internet using 2-way audio-visual equipment, allows ‘outsourcing’ of neurologic care to physicians within the United States (typically in urban centers or academia) who have stroke expertise. Patients with acute neurological emergencies who have no alternative treatment options can be accessed via telemedicine within 15 minutes or less. Rapid administration of tPA improves brain tissue recovery, leading to improved patient outcomes.

Management of acute stroke changed dramatically following FDA approval in 1996 of intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) for the treatment of acute stroke. The race was on to save brain tissue by administering tPA within a 3 hour therapeutic window. The sooner tPA is given, the fewer dead brain cells; in other words, “time equals brain.” Since 1996, obstacles to the utilization of tPA kept the percent of potentially treatable patients who actually got tPA at a mere 2%. The availability of neurologists to provide time specific acute stroke care has been a primary obstacle, particularly in rural hospitals.

When time equals brain, the outsourcing of stroke care is priceless. Analysis of the economic benefits of tPA use published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (2005) revealed an annual savings of $600 per treated patient. With over 600,000 new stroke patients each year, even modest increases in the use of tPA via telemedicine (e.g. increasing from 2% to 10% of eligible patients) could save over $37 million dollars annually, which, when paired with the improvement in patient care, demonstrate the indisputable benefits of outsourcing via telemedicine.