News | February 17, 2008

Telemedical Service Allows Neurologists to Remotely Diagnose Stroke Conditions

February 18, 2008 - REACH Call Inc. said today it is offering its turnkey telemedicine service to the international healthcare industry to facilitate faster treatment for stroke patients in rural areas by enabling neurologists to remotely diagnose, evaluate and recommend treatment from anywhere in the world using a Web browser.

REACH was conceived several years ago when Dr. David C. Hess, Professor and Chairman of Neurology at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG), and other MCG neurologists noticed that rural hospitals in Georgia often were unable to provide stroke care quickly enough to patients who were visiting their ERs did not have a neurologist on staff. These patients were transferred to MCG for treatment, but often too late to receive tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the only FDA-approved thrombolytic treatment for ischemic strokes that must be delivered within three hours of the onset of symptoms.

Studies have shown that the sooner a stroke patient is treated after the onset of symptoms, the better their chances of recovery and prevention of long-term disability. But, the company says less than 2 percent of stroke patients are getting tPA due to poor quality of stroke care in the southeastern U.S.

Today, REACH has nearly 50 hospitals in six states on contract, and the company says the technology has saved numerous lives. For instance, when 86-year-old Francis “Frank” Wozniak of Fredonia, NY, fell to the bathroom floor as he was preparing to shave last June. Immediately, his left arm went numb, his speech became slurred, and he was unable to stand back up. His wife called 911 and emergency responders rushed him to Brooks Memorial Hospital in nearby Dunkirk, NY, where the emergency department staff immediately administered a STAT CT scan of his head. Although Brooks Memorial did not have a neurologist on staff, it used REACH to connected with neurologists at Millard Fillmore Gates hospital in Buffalo, who confirmed via remote cameras and access to treatment data that Wozniak had experienced an ischemic stroke.

Within minutes of receiving tPA, Wozniak was able to move first his fingers, then his hand, then his arm. The company said he made a full recovery.

A mobile workstation is used to initiate a consultation request with a REACH physician. The workstation is an assembly of non-proprietary, off-the-shelf components including a laptop, LCD monitor, keyboard, mouse, and a camera. It is battery powered and is equipped with a wireless bridge for mobility within an ER. Since REACH is a 100 percent Web-based turn-key service, there is no hardware or software installed in the hospital. The consulting physician can use any laptop or PC, a standard off-the-shelf Web cam, and a broadband Internet connection to communicate with the REACH doctor. The physician, who can conduct the consultation from anywhere in the world with a broadband Internet connection, has complete control over the two-way audio and video communication and can view all patient data and DICOM images, such as CT scans, and then use the integrated decision support tools to evaluate the patient and recommend treatment, the company says.

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