AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


Telestroke Is Proving to Be a Saver

Telestroke programs have been proving themselves very effective in bringing critical care to patients in rural areas throughout the country for a few years now and testimonials about patients who have benefitted from advanced, specialized treatment via telemedicine technology are becoming more common place. Receiving advanced stroke care faster is saving lives and resulting in less debilitating recoveries. Telemedicine programs help extend higher quality care to patients living in more rural areas, but some have questioned whether the cost to implement and maintain the technology and services has been thoroughly vetted and considered.

According to a new study by Mayo Clinic researchers, a telestroke program is leading to lower cost. Stroke patients living in rural areas who receive care via a telestroke network see, on average, nearly $1,500 in lower costs over their lifetime compared to stroke patients who do not receive telestroke care, researchers found. The savings are primarily attributed to reduced resource utilization, including nursing home care and inpatient rehabilitation. Researchers also estimate that, compared with no network, a modeled telestroke system consisting of a single hub and seven spoke hospitals may result in the appropriate use of more clot-busting drugs, more catheter based interventional procedures and other stroke therapies, with more stroke patients discharged home independently.

Despite the considerable upfront and maintenance expenses, the entire network of hospitals realizes a greater total cost savings, officials say. “This study shows that a hub-and-spoke telestroke network is not only cost-effective from the societal perspective, but it’s cost-saving,” said neurologist Bart Demaerschalk, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Telestroke Program, and lead investigator of the study, in a press statement. “We can assess medical services, like telemedicine, in terms of the net costs to society for each year of life gained.”

“The results serve to inform government organizations, insurers, healthcare institutions, practitioners, patients and the general public that an upfront investment in telemedicine and stroke network personnel can be justified in our health system,” added Demaerschalk.

Today there are 10 million people utilizing telemedicine and the number will continue to rise as more state legislatures and medical insurance providers realize the benefits to providing payment and reimbursements for telestroke and telehealth services.



AcuteCare Telemedicine and Ty Cobb Regional Medical Center Team Up to Improve Access to Immediate Stroke Care

Throughout Georgia and all around the country, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responders are charged with reacting to emergency calls for assistance, providing emergency evaluation and treatment of a vast array of injuries and illnesses and delivery victims to emergency rooms for more advanced treatment.

The work requires split-second decisions that may affect the patient’s recovery.  Often the decision to bypass the nearest, more rural hospital for an urban medical center, known for its specialized treatment for such illnesses as stroke, can delay the patient’s arrival to that facility beyond the “golden hour”, the first sixty minutes after a patient begins to experience stroke symptoms and the critical window for providing care that can minimize long-term disabilities or prevent a stroke death.

At a recent conference at Ty Cobb Regional Medical Center (TCRMC) in Lavonia, GA, area EMS responders learned of a new program at the hospital that offers advanced critical, specialized care for victims of stroke. The goal was to educate emergency responders about its new telestroke program and how it can benefit the community, and TCRMC by capturing potential stroke patients that may have been otherwise bypassed by EMS personnel in the past.

The new teleneurology/telestroke program is a relationship between TCRMC and AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT), a leading practice-based provider of Telemedicine services for hospitals seeking advanced around-the-clock stroke and other urgent Neurological care.  Presenting the conference was Dr. David Stone, TCRMC Emergency Room Director and ACT’s CIO Dr. James M. Kiely, who is also partner at Atlanta Neurology, P.C. and Medical Director of the Neurophysiology Departments at Northside Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta.

Members of the Franklin County and Hart County EMS were on hand to receive information about the new service line and EMS’ role in triaging potential stroke patients.  “The goal of this new relationship with TCRMC is to build awareness in the area about ACT’s 24/7 stroke treatment coverage and to advance the area residence understanding of stroke, its symptoms and the importance of receiving immediate specialized treatment, said Dr. Kiely.”

Attending EMS personnel received information regarding strokes “golden hour”, and when it is appropriate to take patients directly to TY Cobb Regional Medical Center or when it is better indicated to take patients directly to an advanced tertiary treatment center.

Recent studies indicate that telestroke programs, like the one provided by AcuteCare Telemedicine, may improve access to immediate stroke care by 40 percent and bring advanced care within reach of millions of stroke victims now located outside the hour of critical care for the fourth most common cause of death in the United States.



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.