New research suggests paramedics could use FaceTime to improve stroke assessment

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New research presented at the UK Stroke Forum (7–9 December, virtual) suggests that paramedics could use FaceTime to improve their assessment of someone experiencing stroke symptoms and help quickly and accurately identify stroke patients.1 This can ensure stroke patients access life-saving treatments as soon as possible.

The findings, based on a study undertaken in Kent, England, show that connecting paramedics at the site of an emergency to a stroke specialist can improve the accuracy of stroke diagnosis and referral of patients to the right specialist stroke units to receive treatment.1

Figures published by the Stroke Association showed that almost one in three (29%) people who had a stroke since March delayed seeking medical attention when experiencing the symptoms of stroke.2 According to this report, fear of contracting Covid-19 or burdening the NHS could be reasons people put off calling 999 for stroke.3

According to the Stroke Association, this new study shows that audio-visual technologies, such as FaceTime, can be used to diagnose stroke while also reducing face-to-face contact and avoiding unnecessary journeys to hospitals, which saves time.

The study which included 496 patients also showed that1:

  • Around one in five stroke patients might go undiagnosed with the tests that are currently in place to diagnose stroke by paramedics.
  • A majority (86%) of stroke specialists felt that the audio-visual technology guided their recommendation for patient treatment.
  • The majority (nine out of ten) of stroke specialists, who were connected to paramedics at the scene found the new Telemedicine system easy to use.

David Hargroves, consultant physician, East Kent Hospitals University Trust and Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) national clinical lead for stroke, Tonbridge, UK, who was involved in the study, commented: “We’re incredibly excited to present these findings, which could transform the way paramedics treat acute stroke patients in an emergency. This is especially important during the pandemic where public health measures to reduce face-to-face contact between people means we may need to rely more on virtual assessments.

“When someone is having a stroke, time is critical. The quicker they get specialist assessment, the quicker we may intervene and possibly more of their brain may be saved. Effective treatment for stroke involves a co-ordinated response between paramedics and stroke-specific hospital clinicians. The National Clinical Guidance4 recommends that telemedicine be more widely used, which is backed up by our preliminary findings, and we hope to see more if it’s use in the future.”

Rubina Ahmed, research director at the Stroke Association said: “It’s amazing to see so much new research being shared at the UK Stroke Forum this week. These innovations will help improve care for stroke patients during the pandemic as well as long into the future”

References

  1. McWilliam M, et al. The use of Face Time to support pre-hospital ambulance practitioner assessment of suspected stroke patients, in rural England. Presented at the UK Stroke Forum 2020.
  2. Stroke & Covid-19 Report’ published by the Stroke Association, September Available at: https://www.stroke.org.uk/sites/default/files/campaigning/jn_2021-121.1_-_covid_report_final.pdf
  3. Taken from market research specialists, Eden Stanley, based on their monthly survey of 1,000 respondents conducted 1 – 31 May 2020.
  4. National clinical guideline for stroke 2016. Prepared by the Intercollegiate Working Party. https://www.strokeaudit.org/SupportFiles/Documents/Guidelines/2016-National-Clinical-Guideline-for-Stroke-5t-(1).aspx

 


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