In May, BetterMed Urgent Care became the first health care facility in Central Virginia to offer a groundbreaking medical technology known as BrainScope One. The device allows providers to quickly and accurately tell if a patient has a serious head injury or not—saving them time and money if they do not have to go to the emergency room.
First offered at the Puddledock and Willow Lawn offices, the device is now available at all six locations of BetterMed and has netted positive reviews from both patients and staff.
“I like it a lot,” said Jenny Rodriguez, RN, MSN, who serves as the Site Manager of the Willow Lawn location. “It’s used as a tool to help diagnose a structural brain injury or a concussion on patients who have sustained a head injury.”
The EEG-based device includes a disposable electrode headset for patients that is connected to a handheld device that looks like a smartphone. Using advanced signal processing, sophisticated algorithms and machine learning, BrainScope One measures and interprets brain electrical activity and a patient’s neurocognitive function.
“Once patients complete the testing, they get the results right away, and they like that,” she said.
Use of the BrainScope has resulted in fewer patients needing to be referred by BetterMed providers to the emergency room, where CT-scans are the gold standard for evaluating head injuries. A large percentage of these hospital scans turn out to be negative, resulting in unnecessary radiation exposure and costs for the patient.
BrainScope is used on patients from ages 18 to 65. Rodriguez—who like all BetterMed providers has an extensive emergency room background–says that most head injuries are due to falls, sports injuries and car accidents.
“At Willow Lawn, we have a younger population, so we’ve seen a lot of recreational injuries—people who fell at the river and hit their head on a rock or have injured themselves in a sport,” she said.
Rodriguez explained that patients undergo two-part testing with BrainScope. Patients who may have structural damage, and potential bleeding on the brain, are referred to the emergency room, while those who test positively for a concussion are referred to a concussion clinic to see a specialist—with BetterMed expediting the process.
Patients who test negative for both tests can return home, but receive instructions for taking care of a general head injury. Often, BetterMed providers will call patients within a few days of their visit, to answer any questions and check on them.
According to Rodriguez, BetterMed used to refer the majority of head injury patients to the ER for a CT scan to rule out a structural injury; now only about 10% need to be referred for emergency care.
Patients are pleased because BrainScope One reduces unnecessary exposure to the radiation of a CT scan, and they don’t have to spend hours waiting around the ER. At Better Med, there is rarely a wait time, and patients can see a health provider and be in and out, from arrival to discharge, in 1 hour or less. BetterMed’s six facilities in Central Virginia are open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Additionally, patients don’t have the added expense of an ER visit, which can include high co-pays, facility fees, as well as Emergency Department physician and Radiologist fees and other charges.
“We’re cutting out the middle man,” she said. “We don’t have to send everyone with a head injury to the emergency room now, and the patients are appreciative of that.”
“We are very excited about Brainscope One, and hope that our patients who have used the device help get out the word about this new technology and the expert care we provide here at BetterMed.”
Research Tops $27 million for BrainScope
BrainScope developed its powerful handheld device with the U.S. Department of Defense over eight years, with the support of more than $27 million in funds. The company also received two awards from GE and the NFL, through the Head Health Challenge I. Results from over 20 clinical studies at 55 sites utilizing BrainScope One (formerly known as Ahead 300) have been independently published in 15 peer-reviewed articles. The highly accurate technology was approved by the F.D.A. in September 2016.
Two Tests for Head Injuries
BrainScope offers two tests for head injury. Test 1 helps determine the possibility of structural injury to the brain; Test 2 helps determine if the patient has a concussion. Here’s how it works:
If Test 1 is positive, or not definitive ->Patient referred to ER
If Test 1 is negative -> Patient takes Test 2
If Test 2 is positive -> Patient referred to concussion clinic
If both tests are negative -> Patient can return home