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Advancing Stroke Care Through Telemedicine at Summa Health System

Summa Akron City Stroke Center also wins award

Published: March 30, 2015 11:48 AM
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Akron, OH  – When someone suffers a stroke, every second counts.

Beginning this April, Summa Health System will offer the latest in robotic technology and telemedicine services that will not only shorten the critical treatment time period, but also provide patients with access to an expanded team of highly skilled neurologists and improved patient care.

Summa Health System is developing a Telemedicine Program through a partnership with InTouch Health, a global provider of telemedicine technologies. InTouch Health will be installing two robots – one for Summa Akron City Hospital and one for Summa Barberton Hospital – that will allow neurologists to perform live real-time audiovisual consultations with emergency medicine teams to speed the delivery of clot-busting drugs, such as tPA, that are proven to halt and reverse stroke damage.

“Our robots, in effect, will serve as a portal through which a stroke specialist anywhere can be virtually present at a moment’s notice,” said Dr. Susana Bowling, medical director for Neurosciences at Summa Health System. “Acute stroke care is such a time-sensitive issue, with a small window of treatment and, often, relatively limited access to stroke specialists. Our new Telemedicine Program addresses all these concerns head-on.”

Telemedicine has proven to increase tPA utilization in eligible patients to more than 97 percent, and in 2013 the American Heart Association issued a recommendation of using telemedicine within stroke care protocols. Unfortunately, nearly 40 percent of the country’s population lives in areas where stroke specialty care and tPA is not available.

In addition to investing in the robotic technology, Summa is adding a fellowship-trained neurologist, Dr. Joao Gomes, to its Neurosciences team next month. The health system is also collaborating with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to assist with call requirements. OSU board-certified vascular neurologists will assist with Summa patients through the InTouch telemedicine platform on an as-needed basis. In 2011, OSU’s Wexner Medical Center became the first academic medical center in Ohio to establish a telestroke network, which now partners with more than 20 hospitals and has facilitated more than 800 remote stroke consults.

Summa Akron City Hospital recently received its third consecutive “Target Stroke Award” from the American Stroke Association. The award recognizes hospitals across the country for their fast evaluation and treatment delivery of tPA for acute stroke patients.

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