Better Treatment with Telemedicine

The team investigated the use of a site-independent telemedicine system when used to provide remote consultation leading to treatment decisions about stroke patients. The results of 222 patient cases showed that telemedicine evaluation led to better decision-making than telephone consultations.

According to the researchers, rapid decision-making about treatment is critical in stroke patients, who can benefit from appropriate treatment if it is administered within a narrow window of time. This can be hampered when patients are being evaluated in hospitals in rural or underserved areas without a stroke team, or located too far away from practitioners with such expertise to rapidly treat a stroke patient.

STRokE DOC (Stroke Team Remote Evaluation using a Digital Observation Camera) connects stroke experts located at a “hub” site to the patient at a remote but connected “spoke” site via the Internet. A mobile camera server with an intravenous-pole design is placed at the foot of the patient’s bed at the remote site. The audio and video teleconsultation system allows the stroke expert real-time visual and audio access to the patient, medical team and medical data at the remote site.

Brett C. Meyer, principal investigator, says: “Using STRokE DOC, our stroke team physicians were able to evaluate the patient and help make the correct decision about treatment over 98 percent of the time, compared to only 82 percent of the time when doing a telephone consultation to a remote site.”

Via this system, the stroke specialists can view physical signs of a possible stroke in order to assess the patient’s condition, speak to the patient, family members, nurses and attending physicians, and directly review CT scan images of the patient’s brain. Patients and their families can see, hear, and communicate directly with the stroke expert. The researchers say that the next step is a study to evaluate the long-term health outcomes of patients.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of California, San Diego