In developed countries like the United States, stroke is still the third leading cause of death. In fact, each year stroke occurs in more than 700,000 patients, leaving many with disabilities and unable to resume a normal life.
When a stroke occurs, every second counts. The sooner a stroke victim is treated with medication that breaks up blood clots and restores blood flow to the brain, the less chance the patient will suffer permanent damage such as the loss of muscle control, mobility, or the ability to speak.
According to the American Stroke Association, ‘time lost is brain lost.’ That’s because every minute that passes before a stroke patient is treated, means the death of millions of brain cells.
Unfortunately, less than 30% of stroke victims receive clot-dissolving medication inside a recommended window of an hour or less for maximum effectiveness, according to information from Healthcare delivery network Kaiser Permanente.
But the same study reveals how telemedicine – or a telestroke system to be precise – can be a vital tool in getting stroke victims faster treatment – and thereby limiting the debilitating effects of the attack.
A Race Against Time
Basically, a telestroke system requires a neurologist and attending nurse to have a high-speed Internet connection and videoconferencing capabilities on a laptop, tablet or desktop computer. The purpose is for the consulting neurologist to be able to talk to the patient or an emergency response team about what symptoms the patient is experiencing, evaluating the patient’s motor skills, viewing a computed tomography (CT) scan, making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment.
Data gathered from 300 stroke patients being treated in 21 Kaiser emergency rooms in Northern California shows that those who were diagnosed as having a stroke via a telehealth consultation received clot-busting medication intravenously much faster than the 60-minute guidelines from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.
The Kaiser emergency rooms were equipped with telestroke carts, which included a video camera and access to patients’ electronic scans and test results. When emergency room staff contacted a staff neurologist and a radiologist via a telestroke cart, patients received anti-blood clot medicine in an average of 34 minutes. Eighty-seven percent of stroke patients received the intravenous medication in 60 minutes or less, 73% in 45 minutes or sooner and 41% in 30 minutes or less.
A Clear Priority
According to the American Stroke Association, American Heart Association, and the American Telemedicine Association, telestroke services could save thousands of lives each year and cut costs by $1.2 billion over the next decade.
The reason is because processes that used to happen sequentially during a stroke alert are now happening at the same time. That allows medical staff to provide evaluation and treatment to stroke patients more quickly, safely, and confidently, to avoid further brain damage.
The addition of specialized stroke services helps hospitals improve patient outcomes, decrease patient disability related to stroke, and reduce costs, while keeping patients in the community. Providing expert stroke consults remotely via telemedicine allows prompt care close to home for these patients, making a priority for health care providers nationwide.
If you are interested in bridging the gap of care for patients in need, whether they be in remote areas or unable to leave home, telemedicine can help provide quality care to more people in need. Contact TeleMed2U today, at (855) 446-TM2U (8628).