Tag: telestroke

swyMed Partners with Life Image To Expand Access To Integrated Telestroke Solutions

Life Image and swyMed announce a new strategic partnership to enhance telestroke capabilities. This engagement will improve the ability for physicians to collaborate and coordinate care while using swyMed’s offering by seamlessly integrating relevant clinical and imaging data into the telemedicine encounter. The agreement also deepens swyMed’s ability to connect to neurologists and primary stroke centers, which are already part of the Life Image network. Life Image is currently supporting more than 140 stroke centers within its U.S. network.

This new partnership will advance swyMed’s telestroke solution by combining the exceptional bandwidth management capabilities in its videoconferencing platforms, which are highly beneficial for rural area hospitals, with access to all relevant medical records, diagnostic imaging, and other critical clinical data.

This data is made available through the Life Image clinical image exchange, which is integrated into the workflows of 80 percent of all large health systems and academic medical centers in the U.S. The engagement will also provide Life Image hospital customers with a value-added telestroke solution as part of the Life Image Interoperability Suite, to extend neurology departments’ reach beyond the walls of the organization and deliver timely, high-quality care for patients affected by stroke.

Evie Jennes
Evie Jennes

“Despite widespread knowledge that every moment counts when it comes to treating acute ischemic stroke, a majority of stroke patients do not receive adequate treatment in time due to lack of access to primary stroke centers and appropriate specialists,” said Evie Jennes, CCO, swyMed. “We have dedicated extensive efforts to innovating solutions to overcome these challenges and optimize outcomes among stoke patients. By engaging with Life Image, we can now provide immediate access to imaging and clinical data to speed up diagnosis and treatment, as well as connect swyMed users to premier neurology centers and leading research facilities through Life Image’s extensive provider network.”

There are several access-related challenges associated with acute stroke treatment, which are further compounded by the fact that diagnosis and treatment are incredibly time-sensitive and require a specialist. Unfortunately, research shows a severe lack of stroke specialists in the U.S.: only 55 percent of Americans reside within 60 miles of a primary stroke center, and there are only an estimated 1,100 neurologists specializing in stroke nationwide.

This new strategic partnership between swyMed and Life Image will address these data access and specialist shortage issues by offering immediate connectivity, even in the most bandwidth-challenged areas, to stroke specialists across the U.S., and integrating all relevant medical data into the telemedicine encounter to allow diagnosis and treatment to begin before the patient arrives at the hospital.

Matthew A. Michela, President and CEO
atthew A. Michela

“Providers have long struggled with interoperability and data-integration issues across systems and locations, and these issues come to a head when caring for a stroke patient. Paramedics and emergency room doctors especially need to immediately reach stroke specialists and provide them with the patient’s neurological exam and other imaging and clinical data in order to achieve the best-possible outcome for the patient,” said Matthew A. Michela, president and CEO, Life Image.

“We see this partnership with swyMed as an important opportunity to advance the clinical practice of telestroke. Whether it’s a rural hospital with poor bandwidth or a hospital without stroke specialists, this new engagement will benefit all providers dealing with stroke management by uniting swyMed’s cutting-edge telemedicine platform with our powerful global network of data and integration into thousands of provider workflows nationwide.”

Life Image’s interoperable solution, which integrates into existing workflows, orchestrates the flow of more than 10 million clinical encounters per month. The network connects 1,500 U.S. facilities, 8,000 affiliated sites, 150,000 U.S. providers and 58,000 global clinics with a broader ecosystem of patients, life sciences, medical device companies and telemedicine companies.

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Observations on a Telemedicine Shift: An Insider Perspective

Grant Kohler
Grant Kohler

Guest post by Grant Kohler, vice president, Innovation and co-founder, REACH Health.

I began my healthcare career in the hospital setting. While working at Georgia Regents University (formally the Medical College of Georgia), my colleagues and I developed one of the nation’s first telestroke systems. It was rudimentary at first, literally pieced together on an IV pole from existing equipment: web-enabled video cameras, flatbed scanners for CT scans and spare CPUs, with a landline telephone to provide audio. Since then, I’ve worked with many facilities across the country to set up telemedicine platforms. Over that time, I’ve witnessed a variety of approaches to telemedicine.

One major transformation I’ve witnessed more recently: Many hospital systems are now choosing software-based platforms over hardware-based technologies. As I’ll explain shortly, this shift in thinking has important implications worth considering.

Core Technology: Software vs. Hardware

Telemedicine platforms are evolving rapidly with no signs of slowing. It is prudent to ensure that your hospital is in a position to take advantage of the rapid pace of improvements without being locked into a solution that hinders or prevents future technological enhancements or program expansion.

To appreciate the difference between focusing on software vs. hardware, consider the evolution of mobile phones. In 2007, the first smartphone was introduced. At the time, flip phones were considered leading edge. Less than five years later, flip phones were deemed antiquated by most. Why? The cell phone is a hardware-centric device and the smartphone is a software-centric device.

In the telemedicine industry, first-generation solutions such as tele-presence carts and robots began as single-function, hardware-centric devices. Even if they work satisfactorily for their narrow purpose, they lack the flexibility needed to support cost-effective upgrades and expansion for multiple service lines. Also, because the hardware is proprietary, it often isn’t subject to commoditization and is priced at a premium. As telemedicine technologies have evolved, software-centric platforms have become available and offer increased flexibility, including new capabilities and multiple endpoint options.

Support for Creating a Telemedicine Network – Thinking about the Subscribers

The literal goal of telemedicine is to create networks where provider hospitals offer specialty care or expertise to subscribing hospitals. Successful execution produces improved outcomes and patient satisfaction for a larger number of patients and creates economic benefits for both the provider and subscriber hospitals.

Your telemedicine platform can impact your ability to recruit hospitals into your network. In competitive markets where other provider hospitals are vying for the same potential subscribers, a well-designed telemedicine platform provides a recruiting advantage. If a large hospital balks at expensive hardware investments that easily become dated, a smaller hospital will have similar concerns but a tinier budget. Hospitals of all sizes seek to leverage maximum utility out of all investments with a minimal disruption to existing processes and workflows. With hardware-centric platforms, the inherent focus is often on the technology itself rather than the patient. This is unpalatable for most hospitals considering telemedicine, as their primary objective is better patient care.

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