Rural Hospital Telemedicine/Telestroke Initiative

The New York State Department of Health has developed a Telemedicine Stroke Program modeled after a successful program in Georgia (REACH, Remote Evaluation of Acute Ischemic Stroke), that will allow our rural hospitals (spokes) to access stroke/neurology services through Telemedicine. These services will be provided by 5 major medical centers identified as "hubs" (Albany Medical Center, Albany, New York, SUNY Upstate Medical Hospital, Syracuse, New York, Millard Fillmore Hospital, Buffalo, New York, Bassett Hospital/Schoharie County, Cooperstown, New York, and Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, New York).

The purpose of this initiative is to address the lack of access to neurologist/stroke specialists in rural communities where there is a significant shortage for diagnosis and treatment of stroke. The telemedicine program will allow neurologists to remotely examine patients in rural emergency rooms and/or inpatient hospital by reviewing computed tomography (CT) scans in real time and make recommendations regarding treatment and, if appropriate, tPA from any broadband-connected laptop/computer using wireless WEB based equipment.

An interactive audio and video telecommunications (telemedicine) system is a type of technology that permits a "real time" interactive consultation service to take place. Telemedicine is reimbursable when a patient is located at a spoke site and the needed specialist is located (e.g., hospital, office). The spoke site is the hospital where the referring health professional and patient are located.