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Stroke. 1999 Feb;30(2):464-9.

"Telestroke" : the application of telemedicine for stroke.

Author information

1
Center for Stroke Research & Henry Ford Stroke Program, Henry Ford Hospital & Health Science Center, Detroit, MI, USA. slevine@med.wayne.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Time is of the essence for effective intervention in acute ischemic stroke. Efforts including stroke teams that are "on call" around-the-clock are emerging to reduce the time from emergency room arrival to evaluation and treatment.

SUMMARY OF COMMENT:

Based on the results of the NINDS rt-PA Stroke Trial, which demonstrated both clinical effectiveness in reducing neurological deficits and disability and cost savings to health care systems, many community hospitals and managed-care organizations are exploring methods to enhance and expedite acute stroke care in their local communities. Only a small fraction of acute stroke victims is currently treated with thrombolytics (<1.5% nationally), and few benefit from the expertise and experience of the stroke teams. It is essential to develop new paradigms to improve acute stroke care in all settings, rural and urban. Rapid linkages to expert stroke care can help the underserved areas. Telemedicine for stroke, "Telestroke, " uses state-of-the-art video telecommunications that may be a potential solution and may maximize the number of patients given effective acute stroke treatment across the country and across the world. Telestroke could facilitate remote cerebrovascular specialty consults from virtually any location within minutes of attempted contact, adding greater expertise to the care of any individual patient. This model also has the potential to enhance patient entry into clinical trials. Telestroke would enhance stroke education through the use of Internet-based interactives for health-care professionals and patients. Education would be facilitated through the creation of telecommunication-linked classes providing interactive information on stroke care and prevention to places where they are otherwise not available. Health-care professionals will gain experience and expertise through the interaction with a remote expert--telementoring. Telestroke provides an excellent medium for data collection and an unprecedented opportunity for quality assurance. Monitoring of an entire tele-interaction can offer real-time assessments, which can then be analyzed in-depth at a later date for unique insights into health-care delivery. Prehospital use of telemedicine for stroke is already being piloted, linking patients in the ambulance to the emergency department. Legal and economic parameters must be established for telemedicine in the areas of reimbursement, liability, malpractice insurance, licensing, and credentialing. Issues of protection of privacy and confidentiality, informed consent, product liability, and industry standards must be addressed to facilitate the use of this new and potentially useful technology.

CONCLUSIONS:

Computer-based technology can now be used to integrate electronic medical information, clinical assessment tools, neuroradiology, laboratory data, and clinical pathways to bring state-of-the-art expert stroke care to underserved areas.

PMID:
9933289
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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