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Video conferencing gives neurologic patients quick access to specialty care at Baptist

Baptist Memorial Hospitals across the system are treating patients with the physician in one location and the patient in another through a camera and a monitor on wheels.

Stroke and other neurologic disorder patients are now receiving faster recommendations for treatment with teleneurology at Baptist entities including Memphis, DeSoto, North Mississippi and Golden Triangle. The three Mississippi facilities were the first hospitals in the state to use this service. NEA Baptist will also soon receive the new technology and will be the first to use teleneurology in Arkansas.

Since July 2012, Baptist entities have partnered with Specialists on Call to offer the time-sensitive consultative services for neurologic emergencies. The service is growing around the system and has a tremendous impact on patient care.

“The neurologists are trained to call us back immediately within 15 minutes for a video consultation,” said Julie Horn, Neuroscience service line administrator at Baptist Memphis.

“The patient can see the neurologist, who may be located anywhere around the country through a large screen and a camera. The doctor performs a consultation with the patient and can see as closely as the pupils of the patient’s eyes to the nurses and the visiting family in the room.”

A typical call begins when a Baptist physician requests a neuro consult. This triggers an immediate response from Specialists on Call’s 24/7 contact center to initiate the consult, page the on-call neurologist and connect the neurologist to the hospital physician.

Part of speedy treatment for stroke or other neurological problems can depend on a patient getting the right type of assessment. It is necessary for emergency personnel to have a neurologist, who is a brain specialist, examine the patient and their brain scan as soon as possible to help determine the proper treatment.

When a clot or other problem stops blood flow, it can disable or kill a patient.

“Time is brain,” said Stanley Thompson, Baptist emergency department physician and regional director for Team Health Mid-South. “If you have a clot in your brain, which is a stroke, we need to get you taken care of as quickly as possible.”

That could mean medications that can dissolve blood clots have to be delivered quickly and in precise amounts.

“If a neurologist is not at the hospital, precious time can be lost while waiting for one to travel to the facility,” said Horn. “With Specialists on Call, we can help drive quality care and treatment to patients in a time-sensitive manner.”

The CT scan is immediately uploaded to the neurologist, and many times they can assess it before they dial up the patient.

Because of the video link, neurologists can see and hear the patient, ask questions and get information from medical personnel in the emergency room.

Teleneurology can allow physicians in other locations to help direct treatment with clot-dissolving drugs.

Specialists on Call is Joint Commission-accredited, and the neurologists have all the necessary credentials to treat patients at Baptist hospitals.

Any physician who appears virtually in any state, has to be licensed in that state.

Physicians also have to go through a credentialing process at each facility before they can treat patients.

More hospitals in the Baptist system are considering the teleneurology service to provide consistent and timely care to those patients who need it most.

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