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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spotlight on Teleneurology: St. John’s Hospital

St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois has been designated by the Joint Commission as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center since 2007. The hospital formed a neuroscience service line in 2011 with a designated neurology unit, and implemented its neuro ICU in 2012. Earlier this year, St. John’s strengthened its care capabilities further still by adding teleneurology in a partnership with Eagle Telemedicine.

St. John’s  CONNECT , a Regional Referral Center, serves as a transfer center to coordinate in-bound transfers or consultative services to rural and community hospitals.  . As the need for access to subspecialty services grows, St. John's Hospital recognized the need for an alternative way to support the region around stroke and neurological care.    St. John’s began looking for a tele-neurology partner with the necessary technology to ‘beam in stroke/neurological’ expertise. “We wanted a quality service from a reliable partner with an established track record, and Eagle Telemedicine’s references were especially strong,” says  Regional Referral  Center Administrator, Michelle Oliver. “We went live with Eagle in April 2014 and are very happy with the decision—this relationship has been instrumental in growing our program’s reach in a way that is sustainable as well as successful.”

St. John’s is still in the process of service roll-out. It went live with a connection to its sixth hospital earlier this month, and has conducted over 70 teleneurology sessions to date in operations that are ramping steadily. Even at this early stage, the service has made a positive impact. “We’re able to provide  more complete support to our regional hospitals, and that helps avoid unnecessary patient transfers,” says Oliver. “About one-fourth of the patients we examine remotely remain local, near their families and familiar providers, and that just wasn’t possible before. A teleneurology consultation can also support the family’s decision to pursue comfort measures when a significant stroke means nothing more can be done. The family gets a second expert opinion.”

St. John’s Chief Medical Officer Gurpreet Mander, MD sees teleneurology as strengthening care across the region through standardization. “With this service, top neurologists can see more patients in more locations with zero travel,” he said. “With growth in regional referrals, stronger relationships, and standardized care across multiple smaller hospitals, we look forward to dramatic improvements in population health outcomes by elevating stroke care in the entire region.”