SEATTLE, May 28, 2009 -- The Swedish Neuroscience Institute's TeleStroke Program was featured in a story that KCPQ Television (Channel 13; FOX) aired today about how high-quality videoconferencing can increase patient access to stroke specialists according to an American Heart Association scientific statement and an Association policy statement published in the May issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
In the scientific statement, experts concluded that an examination by a stroke specialist using high-quality videoconferencing equipment is as effective as a bedside stroke evaluation. Physicians must quickly evaluate stroke patients to determine if they're eligible for time-sensitive treatment that can save brain function and reduce disability.
Stroke and brain imaging specialists are often required to perform the evaluation. However, the United States has only an average of four neurologists per 100,000 people, and not all of them specialize in stroke, according to the statement.
Telemedicine, or telestroke, uses interactive videoconferencing via Web cams connected to a TV or computer screen, which allows the patient, family and the bedside and distant healthcare providers to see and hear each other in full color and in real time.
Telestroke is coupled with teleradiology, which allows remote review of brain images. This technology can broaden the reach of neurologists in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner.
In late 2007, Swedish became the first medical center in the Pacific Northwest to offer videoconferencing-based stroke care services. Initially, the Swedish Neuroscience Institute's TeleStroke Program -- based at Swedish/Cherry Hill -- was linked to and supported emergency medicine physicians at the medical center's Issaquah and Ballard emergency departments. Since then, this 'hub-and-spoke' model has been expanded to help provide stroke care assistance 24/7 at Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon, Wash. and Jefferson Healthcare in Port Townsend, Wash.
"Telemedicine is an effective avenue to eliminate disparities in access to acute stroke care, erasing the inequities introduced by geography, income or social circumstance," said William Likosky, M.D., director of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute's Stroke Program.