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MUSC and Roper St. Francis Partner to Improve and Expand Telestroke Care

Posted on: November 1st, 2016 by Andrew Saluke

Lowcountry Stroke Collaborative utilizes REACH Health to improve care quality and patient outcomes

ATLANTA – November 1, 2016 – Two of the leading healthcare providers in South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Roper St. Francis are partnering to establish the Lowcountry Stroke Collaborative with the goals of improving stroke treatment speed and quality, and ultimately improving patient outcomes. The collaborative utilizes the REACH Health telemedicine platform to conduct patient consultations with remote specialists, document each encounter and centrally analyze and optimize the telestroke program.

“The creation of the Lowcountry Stroke Collaborative is a unique and novel concept in healthcare,” said Ellen Debenham, neuroscience telehealth program manager for MUSC. “We have two competing healthcare systems, literally within walking distance of each other, partnering to improve stroke care for our mutual patients. Through the collaborative, we are consistently ensuring a high quality of care regardless of location or time of day. We are also reducing the number of patient transfers, which is accelerating time-sensitive treatment while minimizing stress and inconvenience for patients and their families.”

“We have broken down barriers between two hospital systems and joined forces to provide the highest level of care to every stroke patient in the Lowcountry,” said Dr. Erin Sparks, a neurology hospitalist who helped in creating the stroke care team collaboration. “Most importantly, we are making a huge difference in the lives of our patients by offering them the best chance possible in recovering from a stroke.”

At the crux of the partnership is the telestroke program that ensures patients are seen and treated quicker than ever. In the past, patients arriving at an RSF emergency room who were suffering stroke symptoms were evaluated by an ER physician and then a neurologist on-call was contacted. Now, with the addition of telestroke carts, the neurologist can log on to the system and start examining the patients within minutes of the patient arriving to the ER.

“The fact is that 1.9 million neurons – or brain cells — are destroyed each minute that passes when someone is having a large stroke,” Dr. Sparks said. “This is why we say ‘time is brain.’ When literally every minute counts, you want to be able to make the right treatment decision as soon as possible.”

“Our new partnership is already providing significant benefits to the lowcountry region of South Carolina,” said Dr. Christine Holmstedt, medical director, MUSC Stroke Program. “During Hurricane Matthew, we sent our vascular neurologists out of state to maintain their Internet connections. By doing so, we ensured uninterrupted coverage of our telestroke program and were able to assume stroke coverage in one of the Roper hospitals ahead of schedule. Amidst the devastation of the hurricane, our telestroke program proved to be one of the heroes of our new partnership.”

“We are extremely proud to support this initiative,” said Steve McGraw, president and CEO of REACH Health. “As one of the partner hospitals in the South Carolina Telestroke Collaborative, MUSC has already achieved extraordinary results by bringing expert care to within one hour of 96% of the state’s population. The Lowcountry Stroke Collaborative builds on this success and demonstrates the commitment of MUSC and Roper to improving patient outcomes.”

For more information on the Lowcountry Stroke Collaborative, please visit http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/newscenter/2016/stroke-collaborative/.

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