TELEMEDICINE IMPROVES STROKE COVERAGE ACROSS NORTH TEXAS
When a person suffers from a stroke, seconds count in preventing permanent brain damage. During an ischemic stroke, 1.9 million brain cells die per minute without treatment. This startling fact highlights the need to identify, triage and treat stroke patients rapidly to preserve brain cells and function.
Advanced telemedicine technology provides access to specialty trained neurologists and shortens treatment times in stroke, even in rural areas. Teleneurology wirelessly links patients to a stroke neurologist through an onsite robotic assistant within minutes of the patient’s arrival to the Emergency Department.
Recently, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association released a new set of guidelines addressing quality measures and outcomes in the practice of telestroke.
“Telestroke has evolved over the last decade and is now used quite extensively to take care of acute stroke patients in the US and the rest of the world,” Lawrence R. Wechsler, MD, chair of the writing committee, commented to Medscape Medical News. “Because of this we felt it was time to bring out this statement, which provides a structure against which hospitals can measure the quality of their telestroke programs so patients can be assured of getting the quality they deserve. These are suggestions from a group of experts that will help anyone involved in a telestroke program to run the best service possible.”
Dallas-based Questcare Telehealth has proudly adopted these guidelines with a comprehensive quality metrics database. Dr. Labiche, Questcare Teleneurology Medical Director has been committed to excellence in stroke care for over fifteen years. She says, “The reason we exist is to provide local hospitals with expert, timely and quality stroke care. Adoption of these guidelines allows us to prove to our hospitals, our communities and our patients that we are accomplishing these goals by rigorous data collection and reporting.”
Questcare Teleneurology collects over 60 data points on every consultation performed. Dr. Labiche states, “When our clinical processes are followed, we are able to demonstrate that our telestroke service exceeds the benchmarks set forth by the Joint Commission and TARGET Stroke in reducing door to needle times for tPA administration. For every minute saved, almost two million neurons are saved as well.”