AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


Building Better Policy

Over the past several years, studies such as those conducted by the CDC and the National Institute of Health have constantly shown great disparity in levels of healthcare access across America. Particularly for poorer and rural areas, a lack of proper access has historically been extremely costly both in terms of human life and a greater economic impact. Policy makers, government officials, and leaders of health care organizations have recognized this divide, and are focused on identifying and eliminating barriers to patient access to provide a better, more uniform standard of effective healthcare across the country.

Thanks largely to leaps in technology and growing infrastructure, telemedicine is emerging as a highly effective solution with the potential to shape the future landscape of healthcare in America. The innovative, modern solutions offered by the growing telemedicine field combat the logistical challenges of the current state of healthcare, while having been proven to be more cost effective. Now, legislators are finally beginning to see the light.

On a state level, governments that have passed new telehealth legislation have seen positive results across the board. Powerful new applications and techniques have helped simplify and streamline remote patient consultation and monitoring, delivering better care with less economic impact with patient satisfaction rates nearing 100%. A dozen states, including Georgia, are leading the way on acknowledging telemedicine as an effective and efficient solution. So far in 2012, Maryland and Vermont have become the latest states to require private insurance companies to pay for telemedicine services.

The adoption of telemedicine marks a revolution in healthcare that carries great possibility for lasting impact. Creating a legislative environment in which telemedicine can flourish must continue to become a priority in a nation interested in reducing costs and saving lives.



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.