Stroke and Telemedicine

When most people hear the term “telemedicine,” they think about a patient calling a doctor for a diagnosis. But in the case of stroke telemedicine, called “telestroke” for short, doctors call other doctors. It only makes sense to leverage the powerful tool of telemedicine to help doctors diagnose and treat stroke patients when stroke experts are not on staff.

Some centers are certified as Primary Stroke Centers (PSC) because they have stroke teams and neurologists available 24/7. Many teaching schools in large metropolitan areas also have experts on staff to provide the highest level of care to stroke victims. However, since more than 50% of Americans live over 60 minutes from a PSC, some of these specialized centers and teaching hospitals have developed partnerships with rural hospitals in order to be available through telestroke hotlines to help assess patients and develop a course of treatment.

How telestroke works

A prompt diagnosis is critical in order to limit the damage caused by a stroke. In fact, in order to be most effective, clot-dissolving intravenous thrombolytics must be administered within four and a half hours of the onset of the stroke.

When the local hospital contacts the telestroke hotline, doctors communicate using video, audio, and record-sharing in order to provide the stroke experts at the distant location with all the information needed to help with the diagnosis. The goal is to make it as if that expert were in the room with the local doctor.

The doctor at the local hospital examines the patient, and if a stroke is suspected, activates the telestroke hotline and orders a CT scan. The teledoctors, that is, the stroke team on the hotline, will be able to remotely access the patient’s CT scan and all the patient’s records. These experts will help the local hospital determine if the stroke is caused by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke); whether to begin a clot-dissolving treatment (80+% of all strokes are caused by clots); and whether the patient needs to be transferred to a specialized treatments center.

Time saves lives

Up to 17% of all strokes occur in the hospital. When a stroke occurs outside the hospital, it is usually noticed much more quickly than when it occurs in hospitalized patients. Those stroke victims who are already hospitalized for different reasons when the stroke occurs often go undiagnosed for hours. Studies show that half of all in-hospital strokes are not diagnosed for more than four hours, which means they miss that precious window of time for thrombolytics to be administered effectively. This is why in-hospital strokes are associated with higher rates of disability and death than strokes that take place outside the hospital setting.

Neuralert Technologies is committed to ending the devastation caused by in-hospital strokes with its innovative Stroke Detection Monitor, combining a unique, non-invasive wristband technology with a state-of-the-art patented algorithm to detect asymmetry in arm movement, one of the initial indications of stroke onset.

Because Neuralert’s algorithm is able to rule out other reasons for asymmetry (for instance, an IV in the arm, eating, or talking on the phone) the frequency of false alerts is extremely low. Hospital staff will know that when they get an alert from the Neuralert technology, the patient needs immediate attention.

With Neuralert, the telestroke hotline can be activated sooner, potentially improving outcomes. In fact, Neuralert has been shown to detect more than 80% of ischemic strokes in less than 1 hour, 5 times faster than current protocols. Partner with Neuralert to optimize your hospital’s stroke response protocols.