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Web-based program optimizes stroke care in rural areas

difference in the diagnosis and subsequent treatment recommendations made by neurologists in person and via the REACH system. For example, patient scores based on the NIH evaluation varied no more than 3 points.

In March 2003, the MCG Health System and the Department of Neurology began using the system to make MCG stroke team members immediately available to examine patients at distant, rural hospitals around the clock. Participating hospitals include McDuffie Regional Medical Center in Thomson, Ga.; Wills Memorial Hospital in Washington, Ga.; Jenkins Hospital in Millen, Ga.; Emanuel Hospital in Swainsboro, Ga.; and Washington Hospital in Sandersville, Ga.; and the list is growing, Dr. Hess said.

"These rural hospitals have been outstanding in their support and their enthusiasm; the outlying doctors have been great to work with," said Dr. Hess. "This is a win-win-win situation for the patients, those hospitals and for us."

Time is a critical factor in stroke treatment that starts ticking away as patients and family members begin to realize that a stroke is occurring then make their way to hospitals that provide intervention, Dr. Hess said. Even if a referring hospital is only a half-hour away, the valuable first few hours can be lost, he said, because of transportation and other problems.

Although the FDA suggests treatment within three hours of symptom onset, Dr. Hess said the evidence suggests the benefit is even greater within two hours. That 'the earlier the better' approach is the goal of REACH, he said.

Mr. Wang, who has a master's degree in immunology and microbiology, was working in Rochester, N.Y., in the dot-com industry when he began consulting with MCG neurologists to develop an efficient, effective system that optimizes stroke treatment for patients who otherwise would not have immediate access.

The result was the Web-based system which, at the remote site, has a cart equipped with a vi
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mail.mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
18-Sep-2003


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