Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Atlanta, USA, is improving treatment for stroke patients with the launch of a Telestroke programme, which allows neurologists to remotely evaluate patients around the clock through real-time conferencing with a Telerobot monitor.
AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT) and InTouch Health have partnered with Emory Saint Joseph’s to bring these extended teleneurology services to the hospital. This virtual, high-tech clinical care includes a camera, microphone and speaker in order for the physicians to communicate directly with patients and provide a rapid diagnosis.
The faster a patient receives the proper treatment for stroke, the better the chances for recovery. With this new telemedicine programme, patients may avoid the debilitating effects of stroke that occur due to late diagnosis or delayed administration of clot-busting drugs.
“The advancements in teleneurology not only allow us to access more patients in need of our specialised care, but improves patient outcomes overall,” says Keith Sanders, medical director of Emory Saint Joseph’s Primary Stroke Center. “This new collaboration with Emory Saint Joseph’s is sure to have a significant impact on the patients and communities we serve.”
Patients arriving in the emergency room exhibiting signs of stroke such as numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, trouble speaking and walking or other symptoms, will have the Telerobot placed at the foot of their bed, so the physician has the ability to assess their condition and communicate treatment recommendations immediately.
Along with Sanders, fellow AcuteCare Telemedicine physicians Matthews Gwynn, Lisa Johnston and James Kiely are on-call 24/7 to work with the Primary Stroke Center Team at the hospital. During the evaluation, the physician asks the patients if they have had any difficulties with speaking and movement, and then encourages them to perform basic tasks, such as lifting their arms and legs and touching their fingers to their nose.
Once the evaluation is complete, the physician makes a diagnosis and communicates treatment recommendations to emergency medicine doctors and the Primary Stroke team members.
“Time is brain,” says Regina Minter, quality management specialist for Emory Saint Joseph’s Primary Stroke Center team, stressing the importance of a rapid stroke diagnosis and treatment. “The Telestroke programme will enable us to give tPA in a quicker amount of time for the benefit of our patients,” she says about the FDA-approved medicine that works by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived. If administered within the first three hours, tPA may improve the chances of recovering from a stroke.
Emory Saint Joseph’s treats more than 400 stroke patients a year, and joins Emory Johns Creek Hospital as the second hospital within Emory Healthcare to offer the Telestroke programme. Since 2009, Emory Saint Joseph’s has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center, and is designed to provide emergent and acute stroke care. The multidisciplinary team includes ancillary, emergency and neurovascular services, a clinical decision unit, neurovascular units and a designated intensive care unit.
Since the inception of the Telestroke programme at Emory Saint Joseph’s, patients have already benefitted from the rapid response of the neurologist, which takes an average of four minutes. “The first day we launched Telestroke, a patient was admitted with acute symptoms of stroke. After careful assessment, we were able to administer tPA immediately with great success,” Sanders says.