Published on July 13, 2020

Teleneurology Program Kicks Off in West Branch, Bringing Experts to the Bedside

Michigan Medicine Neurologist Mollie McDermott, M.D., provides a stroke consultation via video visit with an inpatient at MidMichigan Health, while a local hospitalist tests the patient's reflexes

A new Teleneurology Program at MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch enables experts from Michigan Medicine to collaborate remotely with local patients and their care teams.

Patients in West Branch now have access to more specialists at the bedside with the addition of a Teleneurology Program at MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch. Neurologists from Michigan Medicine are available 24/7 to consult with patients and their care team via video visits during an emergency visit or inpatient stay. This new offering in West Branch complements the Telestroke Program that is available in all seven of MidMichigan Health’s Medical Centers.

“There’s a lot of benefits to teleneurology, but most of all it helps us deliver expert care in a very timely manner,” said Neurologist Kurt Sieloff, M.D., medical director for teleneurology at Michigan Medicine. “Patients might otherwise have to be transferred to another hospital to access this care, and that opens the window for a patient’s condition to get worse. By getting answers more quickly, we often can get them home sooner or get them started on treatment or rehabilitation to mitigate symptoms like weakness or loss of vision.”

Telemedicine uses audio and video equipment with a secure internet connection to enable a specialist in another location to examine the patient, consult with the local care team and provide expert advice. With telemedicine, the patient can see, hear and interact with the expert just as they would during an in-person visit. This eliminates the need for costly and stressful ambulance transfers, improves access to specialists who might not be available locally, and saves time and travel for both the patient and their family members. An additional benefit during the current pandemic is that it limits the number of people in the patient’s room while still engaging a diverse team of experts.

“Patients might not know what to expect with telemedicine, but once they try it, they are usually pretty satisfied with the service,” said Dr. Sieloff. “It feels to them and to us as if we are right there in the room. We can talk directly with the patient and their local care team, coach them through the steps to quickly arrive at answers and then come up with a treatment plan.”

“Being able to now offer teleneurology services in West Branch will be a huge, immediate benefit for our West Branch patients with stroke,” said Neurologist Mollie McDermott, M.D., medical director for the Telestroke Program at Michigan Medicine. “After our telestroke team has emergently seen a patient and made recommendations about acute stroke imaging and intervention, the teleneurology team can evaluate the patient and make recommendations about less urgent stroke work-up and secondary stroke prevention. The two teams will be able to integrate to provide truly comprehensive inpatient stroke care for our West Branch patients.”

“While stroke is the most common condition we see, we also consult on a wide range of neurological conditions that might result in hospitalization such as seizures, brain tumors, encephalopathy, weakness, spinal cord injury, aphasia and multiple sclerosis,” Dr. Sieloff added. “We collaborate with the patient’s care team in West Branch, which includes experts in emergency medicine, hospital medicine, critical care, neurosurgery, imaging, rehabilitation and other services.”

Teleneurology is the latest of many new programs launched in West Branch since the Medical Center affiliated with MidMichigan Health in 2019.

“When the Medical Center in West Branch chose to join MidMichigan Health, one of the selling points for the community was the partnership with Michigan Medicine,” said Ray Stover, president, MidMichigan Medical Centers in West Branch and Gladwin. “Through this partnership, we’ve not only been able to recruit many additional specialists to the area, but we can also collaborate remotely so that patients in West Branch get the same standard of care they’d receive in larger downstate hospitals, without the travel.”

Those who would like more information about the Telestroke and Teleneurology Programs at MidMichigan Health may visit www.midmichigan.org/telemedicine.