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Hospitals Bet on Neuroscience

By jfellows@healthleadersmedia.com  
   February 04, 2016

Healthcare executives believe the neuroscience service line is primed for delivering better and more coordinated care. OSF HealthCare, Carilion Clinic, and Stanford Health are making big investments in patient-centric facilities and state-of-the-art equipment.

Neuroscience may be a clinical mainstay at hospitals and health systems, but new technologies are helping to reinvigorate the service line. So are the possibilities to improve care coordination for some of the most medically complex patients.

Funding for neuroscience initiatives got a big boost from the federal budget signed into law in December. Both the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation will see more money for neuroscience research, but hospitals and health systems are also investing in neuroscience because of patients' needs.

For example, Peoria, IL-based OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, a 609-bed tertiary teaching center that is the largest of OSF HealthCare's 11 acute care facilities, and the Illinois Neurological Institute just unveiled a new intraoperative MRI (iMRI).


Frank Longo MD, PhD

It's only the second hospital in Illinois to have the technology, which lets surgeons better identify and see tumors as they are operating. And Carilion Clinic, a nonprofit integrated delivery health system in Roanoke-VA, recently opened a $32 million, 116,000-square-foot Institute for Orthopaedics and Neurosciences.

One of the most significant investments in neuroscience is in Palo Alto, CA at Stanford Health Care, the integrated health system that includes a highly regarded academic medical center. It built a five-story Neuroscience Health Center, which opened in January.

The center includes a full autonomic lab, which includes four EEG's, two EMG's, EKG, TCD, utlrasound, and two tilt rooms. It's the first and only such lab on the West Coast, according to Alison Kerr, vice president of operations for Stanford Health Care. "Most outpatient centers might do EEGs and EMGs, but they won't offer all," Kerr says. "We have the full complement of all the diagnostic testing, everything our patients need. We are really trying to accommodate them."

Now all outpatient services for neurology patients are under one roof. Instead of doubling back for a separate lab, rehab, or therapy appointment, patients can have multiple appointments on the same day, in the same building. Prior to the new center, the clinics were the only thing that were in one place for patients.

The central locality of rehab, infusion, and other services will make a huge difference to patients and their families, says Frank Longo MD, PhD, department chairman of neurology and neurological sciences, who was part of the center's planning team.

Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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