AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


The Georgia Partnership for Telehealth Spring Conference

The Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth (GPT) was founded on the advances in the continually evolving telecommunications technologies. Since its formation in 2008, GPT has grown to become one of the most robust, comprehensive telehealth networks in the nation. The hallmark of GPT is the Georgia Telemedicine Program, an Open Access Network, which is a web of statewide access points based on strategicGPT Image partnerships with successful existing Telemedicine programs, and the creation of new Telemedicine locations, to maximize opportunities for timely specialty services. When fully realized, the Program will enable all rural Georgians to access specialty care within 30 miles of their homes. GPT’s services and support can provide state of the art telehealth solutions for all Georgians.

On March 25, 2015 GPT will be sponsoring their 6th Annual Spring Conference in Savannah, GA. The conference is a great opportunity for healthcare professionals from all medical disciplines and specialties 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 (ACT). “As medical practitioners, we are expected to apply the latest techniques and technologies to the treatment of our patients. However, it is incumbent upon us to analyze the outcomes to gauge whether there are meaningful benefits and share that knowledge with the greater medical community. Indeed, state-of-the-art telemedicine technology is advancing stroke care and saving lives,” says Dr. Sanders. “I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences improving outcomes and expanding access to quality, advanced stroke care with my fellow Conference attendees.”

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.



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.



Making a Meaningful Difference to Lives around the World

It has been a little more than a year since Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth (GPT), the Louisiana State University Health Science Center (LSU) and Casa Para Ninos Aleluya (CASA) launched its first international telemedicine program. The mission of the collaboration is to deliver much needed primary and specialized medical care to the children of the CASA orphanage through the use of telemedicine technology.  The orphanage is home to over 400 abused, orphaned and mistreated children and is located just outside of Guatemala City. The medical needs of hundreds of the children at CASA are met daily through a few nurses that manage a clinic on-site.

Shortly after the Program got underway, 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 was given the opportunity to demonstrate telemedicine capabilities at the orphanage and volunteered his time and talents to render virtual care to the youth of CASA.

Dr. Kiely remotely treated a 19 year old CASA patient with a history of intractable epilepsy. The young patient was on numerous medications but continued to experience recurring seizures. By using a high definition audio-visual connection provided by GPT, Dr. Kiely was able to interview the patient’s parents and examine the patient remotely. The imaging results, hemiparesis, and description of seizures allowed him to determine that the likely type and cause was attributed to porencephaly, the failure for one hemisphere of the brain to develop. Kiely was able to recommend appropriate medications to on-site doctors and to suggest additional steps to take if the patients epilepsy remained intractable. The process worked flawlessly and marked the beginning of a new relationship between the missions and medical providers across the region.

At a recent GPT Telehealth Summit this year in Florida, Dr. Kiely was brought up to date on the patient he first treated more than a year ago at the orphanage in Guatemala. A family member of the patient has recently received his Master’s Degree. He is now serving an internship with the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth who continue to provide ongoing support to the children of the Guatemala region through donated physician time. He had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Kiely and informed him that the young patient, his sister, is doing well.

Dr. James M. Kiely says, “I am so invigorated when I’m able help a patient and to make a meaningful difference in their future. Whether here at home, or around the world, it is extremely rewarding.”



New Partnerships Bring Telemedicine to Guatemala

Recently the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth (GPT), the Louisiana State University Health Science Center (LSU) and Casa Para Ninos Aleluya (CASA) launched its first international telemedicine program. The new partnership was formed through an ongoing relationship with former Louisiana Senator and Family Medicine Practitioner, Dr. Donald Hines and GPT’s Chief Executive Officer, Paula Guy.

The mission of the collaboration is to deliver much needed primary and specialized medical care to the children of the CASA orphanage through the use of telemedicine technology.  The orphanage is home to over 400 abused, orphaned and mistreated children and is located just outside of Guatemala City.  Started in 1988 by missionaries Mike and Dottie Clark, CASA’s vision is for the kids they serve to have a chance in life by bringing pediatric specialty care to the clinic in order to change the futures of these children and so many more.  The medical needs of hundreds of the children at CASA are met daily through a few nurses that manage a clinic on-site.  The new technology will greatly aid the on-site care givers capabilities in providing quality medical care to the children. The new technology has become a magnet for other missions who are struggling to serve the estimated 200,000 orphaned children across Guatemala.

The clinic was up and online within 24 hours and the nursing staff at CASA was trained and certified as telemedicine presenters and will be supported by Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth as they continue to serve Cuidad de Los Ninos.

AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT), the leading practice-based provider of Telemedicine services for hospitals in the southeast United States, recently donated their time and expertise to make telemedicine a reality at CASA.  Dr. James M. Kiely, a partner in Atlanta Neurology, P.C., ACT and Medical Director of the Neurophysiology Departments at Northside Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta recently demonstrated the benefits of telemedicine capabilities at the orphanage.

Dr. Kiely remotely treated a 19 year old CASA patient with a history of intractable epilepsy. The young patient was on numerous medications but continued to experience recurring seizures. By using a high definition audio-visual connection provided by GPT, Dr. Kiely was able to interview the patient’s parents and examine the patient remotely. The imaging results, hemiparesis, and description of seizures allowed him to determine that the likely type and cause was attributed to porencephaly, the failure for one hemisphere of the brain to develop. Kiely was able to recommend appropriate medications to on-site doctors and to suggest additional steps to take if the patients epilepsy remained intractable.  The process worked flawlessly and marked the beginning of a new relationship between the missions and medical providers across the region.

Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth has aligned its mission to serve domestically and internationally and is seeing lives change through getting access to care in these underserved areas. There are no limits in providing this kind of access worldwide using technology,” states Dr. Jeffrey Kesler, COO of GPT.  The Partnership’s experience in implementing Telemedicine includes nursing homes, school clinics, correction, specialty clinics, Emergency Department, ICU, stroke assessment, primary care, child advocacy, and continuing education.

GPT will be providing ongoing support to the children of the Guatemala region through donated physician time. Physicians, who are interested in investing time to serve at CASA Para Ninos Aleluya, are encouraged to contact Matt Jansen, Executive Director, Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth at matt.jansen@gatelehealth.org.



Evolution / Revolution

After more than two decades in experimental and somewhat limited practice, telemedicine is poised to experience a revolution in use and acceptance by medical care providers and patients alike. The journey since its practical inception has been fraught with challenges, both in the tangible technical arena as well as the human/emotional one, and the pace to this point has been more accurately described as evolution as opposed to revolution.

Significant barriers remain to be removed from the telemedicine pathway to full acceptance as an innovative healthcare delivery model, but many of the once formidable obstacles are rapidly falling by the wayside. Paula Guy, CEO of the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth, says “It’s not about the technology anymore, it’s about applying it… In the next few years, it will no longer be known as telehealth. It’s just going to be the way we do healthcare.” Still, the intangibles are lagging behind in the acceptance curve, the most predominant being the persistent concern for the effects of technology on redefining the doctor-patient relationship.

From the patient standpoint, the level of acceptance is gaining at a quicker pace than that of the doctors and their service provider associates. Greater access to specialized medicine, convenience factors, and the concern for rising healthcare costs have eased the reluctance of patients, who are now accepting lessened one-on-one contact with their care providers, although nobody is predicting this personal interaction will go away for good.

Physician’s reluctance is based in part on a good deal of research that indicates a clinician’s physical presence in the room, along with simple companionate personal consultation, has therapeutic value. There’s also a worry that without face-to-face access to the patient, the physician will miss something important or that over-enthusiasm for telemedicine services will deprive patients of the essential hands-on component of care.

To many, the advantages of telemedicine in terms of bolstering the quality and availability of enhanced medical care must be weighed against the potential harm that could result from patients not having in-person contact with their physicians. The real solution to overcoming this challenge is to discover an optimal intersection of technology and personal, hands on care. It remains just ahead in the evolutionary path of telemedicine, where it can enable a true revolution instead.



If You Build It, Will They Come?

A recent report from the Pew Research Center measuring the number of adults using technology to track their health has presented some surprising findings.

The results of the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey, which were recently reported in iHealthbeat and supported by The California Healthcare Foundation, found that of 3,014 adults interviewed by phone, just 21 percent of the respondents actively used technology to track their health care. What may be even more surprising is that just 19 percent of those surveyed who owned smart phones, or just 7 percent of all respondents, had acquired an app to monitor their health. Susannah Fox, lead author of the report was surprised by the results and commented, “We’ve been looking at health apps since 2010, and health app uptake has been essentially flat for three years.”

A look at the science of the report, particularly the definition of “adults,” could give some more understandable insight as to the results and may produce answers for some of the “surprise” as to the outcome. Considering that most, older adults have a seemingly natural long acceptance curve when it comes to adopting technology and gadgets, and considering the well-entrenched privacy attitudes about everything to do with personal health information, the results may not be all that unexpected.

Purveyors of new communication technologies operate in environment where todays new devise and idea is often well into obsolescence by tomorrow; such rapid progression of invention to development is unmatched by other industries and beyond the understanding of most consumers. Expecting an equally aggressive acceptance rate by the markets is unreasonable, even when the benefits of convenience and utilization are so obvious to so many.

Given the generally slow acceptance rate of consumer health products, a three year period of market penetration may not be a reasonable benchmark to measure the success or failure of health care applications. Only more time will reveal if the “acceptance curve” will sharpen and the adoption and usage rates grow more dramatically.

“Build it and they will come”. Perhaps, but it may just take a bit longer for their arrival.



Good Things Come in Small Packages

As the fall approaches and we reach the third anniversary of AcuteCare Telemedicine, we have spent some time reflecting on our company and personal growth over the last three years. From simple beginnings, serving one health care facility in the metro Atlanta area, ACT has expanded to include facilities in rural communities of both Georgia and Tennessee. We have developed alliances with Emory University Hospital and the Georgia Partnership for Teleheath, two partners who enable us to provide the highest quality of acute neurologic care where it may otherwise be lacking. Turning our attention forward, ACT continues to push to ensure that every emergency department is staffed with adequate 24/7 neurology coverage, whether in person or via remote presence.

ACT has always believed that our successes are primarily due to the quality of services we offer. Despite our expansion over the past three years, ACT has remained a small, intimate company, still owned and operated by its four founding physicians. We find unique value in our size; it allows for outstanding continuity of care, frequent “meetings of the minds,” and quick, effective identification of problems and subsequent solutions.

Weekly meetings with all four physicians cultivate innovative ideas, enable problem identification, and facilitate the creation of solutions in a timely and efficient manner, advantages rarely possible in larger corporations. Thanks to the size of the company, each physician of ACT has a specific role, but can be flexible and share duties when needed, strengthening the consistency of the quality care we provide.

Being smaller has other rewards. In the world of acute neurological emergencies, there is little time for complex communication and red tape. When problems or concerns arise at any of our serviced facilities, an ACT physician can immediately make contact remotely and work directly with a facility member on issue resolution. Try calling up the CEO of your car’s manufacturer when your check engine light comes on.

The four physician-owners of ACT continue to practice neurology in a group that has been caring for patients for more than 65 years combined. We are highly trusted neurologists in our own community, and we are committed to bringing our expertise to other communities in need. Our small size ensures that we will stay focused on keeping our standards high and our integrity intact along the way.



Philanthropy at Work

Aiming to improve the quality of healthcare delivery in a critical region of the United States, the Amerigroup Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Amerigroup Corp., is providing a $50,000 grant to improve access to care in rural areas of Georgia. The grant was presented to the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth (GPT), an organization working to provide specialized healthcare services in underserved parts of the state through the use of telemedicine.

Georgia is part of a group of states in the southeast US comprising what is known in neurology circles as the ‘Stroke Belt,’ or ‘Stroke Alley,’ named for citizens’ propensity toward higher risk and morbidity of stroke due to several lifestyle factors. One such factor for elevated risk is larger ‘desert’ areas where rural residents do not live within an acceptable distance of a facility where they can receive proper treatment in cases of stroke. Funding programs such as this most recent grant by the Amerigroup Foundation can mean tremendous strides toward building the awareness and infrastructure needed to correct these less-than-ideal conditions, including instating telemedicine programs to eliminate the obstacle of distance between patient and doctor.

Teleneurology brings technology and expertise that are incredibly powerful tools in the fight against stroke. With time so precious, telemedicine programs are saving the lives of rural dwellers who previously had extremely limited options. The partners of AcuteCare Telemedicine are pleased to see the patronage of organizations concerned with creating better, more accessible care being put to good use.

 



Checking in From the 2012 ATA Conference

AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT) Sales Executive Michael Woodcock attended the 2012 American Telehealth Association Conference, the world’s largest telemedicine, telehealth, and mHealth event in San Jose, California.

Greetings from San Jose!

The 2012 ATA Conference has been very impressive. This year’s conference has drawn a record number of attendees (4,500) and more than 175 vendor exhibits. The exposition features several booths with groundbreaking new products and services. Attendees have been encouraged to share news and notes and interact with the conference on social media platforms, which is demonstrative of the kind of technical innovation on display here.

In addition to the exhibitions, there have been a large number of interesting presentations and discussions on a wide variety of topics relating to telehealth and telemedicine. I have attended highly informative Industry Executive Panels on growth sectors in telemedicine, reimbursement issues facing the industry, and perspectives on the state of mobile applications and their compliance with HIPAA as they relate to telemedicine.

Some of the highlight sessions included Model Telemed Programs (a Georgia Partnership for Telehealth presentation from Paula Guy), a feature presentation on Telemedicine and its profitability, and a keynote address by Apple co-founder and tech advocate Steve Wozniak. There are too many presentation topics to list, but suffice it to say the conference is a comprehensive, in-depth look at all facets of the industry. It is exciting to see the growing influence of telemedicine as a potent solution to many pressing healthcare issues.

A link to the full conference program can be found here.



Regional Solutions Are Best for a National Health Care Problem

Stroke affects every community in the United States. However, the risk varies by region (consider the “Stroke Belt” of the southeastern US), and the resources available for treatment have historically been unevenly distributed. Much of the disparity is cultural, but some is political. In the 18th and 19th centuries, where a river or mountain range limited travel, state boundaries were created. At the time, those natural boundaries impeded communication, but 21st century technology breaks those barriers with ease.  The federal government’s recent institution of 12 new telehealth regions takes into account the latest technological advances while maintaining regional autonomy. New broad-band internet availability in rural parts of the country now allows telehealth to provide high quality medical care in areas where geographical obstacles once prohibited.

Rapid stroke-specific care can be accomplished at any local hospital within a telehealth region. No longer does a zip code determine the quality of healthcare available to its residents. Fortunately, regionalism, an inherent aspect of human nature, is preserved, and for good reason when providing healthcare. Each region, unlike some individual hospitals, has all the specialty services needed, but still provides a manageable focus for organizing and monitoring quality of care. Compared to national approaches, regional telemedicine providers have knowledge of and experience with regional medical care and resources, making it easier to understand each region’s specific needs.

The Federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), created the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT) to promote the use of telehealth technologies for health care delivery, education, and health information services. Each region is managed by a regional Telehealth Resource Center (TRC). OAT provides a list of the current TRCs on their website as well as a map of their catchment areas.

The Georgia Partnership for Telehealth is a leader in the Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center, providing reliable and cost effective high speed internet service to medical sites in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, all of which are located in the aforementioned “Stroke Belt,” where incidence of stroke is highest. Linking a region’s medical resources to maximize patient care is a race against the clock (which in the case of stroke is a race towards saving brain), and telemedicine consultations now take just minutes. Simply put, an internet connection traveling the speed of light is a significantly more efficient means of linking these resources than an ambulance driving at full speed or a helicopter flying at 120 miles per hour. This is the power of 21st century technology.