Medical College of Georgia Dean and stroke specialist Dr. David Hess will testify before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today in Washington, D.C. The topic of the hearing is “Building Opportunity in Rural America through Affordable, Reliable and High-Speed Broadband” and Hess will be talking about the REACH telestroke program.
A nationally recognized telemedicine service founded by Hess and others at MCG, REACH Health (now a division of InTouch Health) makes neurological consults more available to patients in rural areas by enabling neurologists at MCG/AU Health and Grady Health System in Atlanta, both advanced comprehensive stroke centers, to diagnose and help treat stroke patients from anywhere, at any time, through a standard computer, webcam and broadband internet connection.
When people in rural areas, where often there is no neurologist on staff, suffer an ischemic stroke, the most common stroke type caused by a blood clot interrupting blood flow to the brain, only a small percentage receive the most effective care. A medication known as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) dissolves clots and is most effective if given within three hours of the onset of stroke.
Emergency room physicians in these rural areas are better able to know when and if they should administer tPA after consulting with neurologists at MCG/AU Health and Grady Health via the REACH telemedicine program.
Access to high-speed rural broadband is an important issue in our country, experts agree. The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit is led by chairman U.S. Rep David Scott (GA-13) and ranking member U.S. Rep Austin Scott (GA-8). U.S. Rep Rick Allen (GA-12), a member of the full U.S. House Agriculture Committee, will introduce Hess.
The Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA-2), has provided $1.2 billion over the last two fiscal years to deploy rural broadband access to Americans living in rural areas, with more funding expected this fiscal year.
InTouch Health, a company that develops enterprise telehealth technology for hospitals and health systems, acquired REACH Health, which has provided lifesaving treatments to more than 50,000 people, in April 2018.