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UMD Provides Telehealth, Telestroke Services to Local Hospital

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Stroke patients at Carroll Hospital Center will now have access to telehealth from the University of Maryland that will speed interventions and accelerate the pace of care for those with emergency needs.  The partnership will bring round-the-clock telestroke consults, secure video chat, and real time health information exchange to physicians at Carroll through the University of Maryland Medical Center’s (UMMC) Brain Attack Team.

Previously, emergency stroke consults were conducted over the phone, which limited the way specialists could provide necessary care to patients with immediate treatment needs.  Surviving a stroke and regaining key functionalities after the event is largely dependent on how quickly a patient receives care, which makes the ability to conduct remote exams with video capabilities and instant access to radiology images and lab reports a significant improvement over other telehealth efforts.

“When it comes to stroke care, minutes matter. Having experts readily available for consultations when needed ensures the best possible outcomes for our patients,” says Sandra Ruby, MD, medical director of Carroll Hospital Center’s Stroke Program.

“With early intervention, the long-term effects of a stroke can be minimized,” added Barney J. Stern, MD, the Stewart J. Greenebaum Endowed Professor of Stroke Neurology and Interim Chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at UMMC. “Identifying the appropriate treatment for each case can be a complex process and, unfortunately, stroke patients do not have the luxury of time on their side.”

UMMC is one of fewer than seventy healthcare organizations to be recognized by the Joint Commission as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, and the health system already has significant expertise in the telehealth field.  The telestroke program is part of a larger telehealth effort that connects eleven Maryland hospitals through UMMC’s e-ICU initiative, which provides a safety net of intensive care coverage during night and weekend shifts.

“Programs such as this empower community hospitals to provide the necessary care to patients close to their homes,” says Marc. T. Zubrow, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Vice President of Telemedicine for the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS). “In the current health care environment, it’s crucial to provide the best possible patient care in the most efficient and cost-effective way. By reducing the number of patients that need to be transferred to Baltimore, we keep the right patients in the right place at the right time.”

A number of other healthcare organizations are taking similar action to help connect patients with stroke care as quickly as possible through remote consults with experts at trauma centers that may be hundreds of miles away.  These programs have been shown to improve access to timely care by 40 percent, and are currently in use at the University of Virginia, the Sisters of Mercy Health System in Missouri, and numerous other providers nationwide.

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