Stroke Network connects patients to life-saving stroke care across the region
When the window of opportunity is small, the benefits of Systemness can be huge. This is especially true for stroke patients when time is critical, and a few hours can be the difference between full recovery and permanent neurological damage. Because timely, accurate diagnosis and decisions are key to helping patients get on the road to recovery, OhioHealth launched our own Stroke Network.
The Stroke Network involves collaboration among expert neurologists from Riverside Methodist Hospital and Grant Medical Center, as well as OhioHealth’s team of specially trained nurses and doctors who staff the Electronic Intensive Care Unit (eICU). Together, they connect with Emergency Department (ED) physicians from other care sites to provide stroke patients with the best possible care.
OhioHealth’s Stroke Network is the first of its kind in Ohio, underscoring OhioHealth’s leadership in innovation and telemedicine.
Smaller regional hospitals often don’t have the neurological coverage they need to support patients suffering from strokes. As a result, their ED physicians often transfer stroke patients to larger hospitals where more advanced neurological services are available. That sometimes can take hours.
That’s where the OhioHealth Stroke Network makes a life-saving difference.
Using leading-edge communication technologies, the Stroke Network employs telemedicine to help patients throughout the region receive the most advanced stroke care and appropriate interventions. By enabling real-time communications between nurses and physicians at regional hospitals and our neurologists in central Ohio, the Stroke Network saves valuable time and can help patients avoid long term neurological damage.
Here’s how it works: An eCare Mobile Cart (essentially, a two-way camera and audio connection) in the regional hospital’s ED connects to OhioHealth’s eICU via the Internet. This use of telemedicine allows neurologists on call from Riverside Methodist or Grant to actually see the patients as they evaluate their condition, view test results and confer with the community hospital’s physicians.
This multidimensional neurological evaluation helps the neurologist determine appropriate therapies and whether the patient needs to be transported to Riverside Methodist or Grant for more advanced treatment.
According to Bill Carroll, MD, medical director of Neurology at Grant, the Stroke Network is an excellent example of Systemness.
“Physicians and administrators from Riverside Methodist, Grant, Marion General and OhioHealth corporate all pitched in to evaluate the technology and figure out how to make it work for our system and our patients,” says Dr. Carroll. “Systemness is not just about combining services or taking advantage of economies of scale. It’s about working together and taking advantage of each other’s complementary skills — all for better patient outcomes.”
Connie Gallaher, vice president of Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Surgery, Bariatrics and Rehab at Riverside Methodist, agrees. “The Stroke Network is a perfect example of everybody getting a ‘win,’ starting with the patient,” says Connie. “By working together and meshing our talents and different levels of expertise, we are better able to serve our patients with advanced levels of care and accelerated diagnoses and therapies. That’s Systemness at work.”
Designed as a “hub and spoke” model, OhioHealth’s Stroke Network currently includes Dublin Methodist Hospital, Grady Memorial Hospital and Marion General Hospital as “spokes” linked via the eICU to Riverside Methodist, which serves as the hub hospital. Additional “spokes” from across the region, including Adena Regional Medical Center in Chillicothe, will be added to the network in the future.
A case study demonstrates how the Stroke Network brings the system together to better support our patients and their families.
A patient with stroke-like symptoms was admitted to Marion General’s ED. Hospital staff conducted a rapid CAT scan and neurological assessment, and determined that the patient’s condition fell into a category where thrombolytic therapy (the use of drugs to dissolve blood clots) was a consideration.
At that point, Marion General engaged the Stroke Network by using the eCare Mobile Cart to link up with the eICU where an interventionist conducted a quick “triage” analysis. Then, the Stroke Network’s neurologist on call, Dr. Carroll, was contacted.
Using a laptop computer and Web-cam at his home, Dr. Carroll connected to Marion General’s eCare Mobile Cart. He was able to conduct a neurological assessment of the patient that confirmed the Marion General ED physician’s diagnosis and recommendation to administer a clot-busting medication intravenously. Once that was started, the patient was transported to Riverside Methodist for further evaluation and monitoring.
“We are driven by an intense desire to provide the best quality care available to our patients, whether they come to us in Columbus or Marion or any other community we serve,” says Paul Culler, MD, medical director of the ED at Marion General. “By providing 24-hour-a-day access to triage nurses, interventionists and neurologists, OhioHealth’s Stroke Network enables us to do just that.”
Happily, the Marion General patient recovered and has returned home with few residual problems from his stroke. Had the Stroke Network not been operational, the time lost in transferring the patient from Marion General to Riverside Methodist without a confirmed diagnosis and timely administration of medication could have resulted in a very different outcome.