Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Telestroke" Centers

From the Boston Globe, via Symtym:

Massachusetts is among the first states where neurologists have begun to treat stroke patients without seeing them in person. Fourteen community hospitals have signed contracts with Mass. General's ''telestroke" service, and the hospital is considering expanding into New Hampshire and Vermont.

Meanwhile, a neurologist at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Dr. Colin McDonald, and four partners convinced investors to part with $5 million to start Brain Saving Technologies, a for-profit company that competes with the Mass. General service and so far has signed up nine hospitals in Massachusetts and New Jersey. Hospitals in San Diego, Georgia, and Utah have also set up telestroke services.

Doctors at large hospitals routinely use ''telemedicine" to treat thousands of patients in rural locations across the United States, diagnosing skin conditions, monitoring irregular heartbeats, and conducting therapy sessions. But diagnosing and treating patients in the middle of a potentially fatal or disabling emergency is a new frontier. Doctors on both ends of the monitor are concerned about who is liable if a mistake is made treating a patient. And in many states, including Massachusetts, health insurers and the federal Medicare program usually refuse to pay ''remote" doctors for their services.


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