Device allows for remote stroke diagnosis

Sounds like a webcam…

From the Rocky Mountain News:

A new camera system will allow neurologists in Denver to zoom in on the faces and limbs of patients in outlying Colorado hospitals to determine whether they’ve had a stroke.

The system could save lives because people lose 1.9 million brain cells every minute during a stroke, so the sooner there is a correct diagnosis, the sooner anti-clogging medication can be given, neurologists say.

The Colorado Digital Online Consultant, or CO-DOC, is coordinated by the Colorado Neurological Institute, a nonprofit organization of neurologists that applies for grants and advocates for better access to neurological treatment. Program partners are Swedish Medical Center in Englewood and Blue Sky Neurology.

It soon will be operating between metro Denver and the Vail Valley Medical Center. Swedish and CNI have applied for a state grant so remote machines can be installed elsewhere in Colorado.

“We can actually operate it from anywhere that has Internet access – the home, the office or at Swedish,” said Dr. Chris Fanale of CNI.

Here’s how the system works:

A patient checks in to a clinic or emergency room of a small hospital with symptoms that may or may not indicate a stroke.

Doctors and nurses who are not experts in neurology may be reluctant to jump to a conclusion because the best anti-clogging medication, TPA, has dangerous side effects that can include fatal bleeding.

So the hospital or clinic calls Swedish Medical Center or the neurologist on duty.

The neurologist plugs into a laptop with special software. A small Web camera is pointed at the doctor’s face. On the other end, a larger camera is pointed at the patient’s bed. The system allows patient and doctor to see and talk to each other in real time.

More patients asked to pay first

From the News Observer, via Symtym:

The next time you go in for care at UNC Hospitals or any of its outpatient clinics, don’t forget your wallet.
Hospital workers are beginning to ask patients who come in for non-emergency care to pay their portion of the bill up front, usually when they check in for medical appointments.

Some may balk at paying for treatment they have yet to receive, but many hospitals say it’s necessary because too many patients don’t pay their share. Unpaid bills have mounted in recent years, and hospital administrators worry that will only worsen as health insurance becomes less generous and patients become responsible for more of their own medical bills. Patient fees now frequently make up a quarter or more of hospitals’ total reimbursement for some services.