In-Transit Telemedicine Speeds Ischemic Stroke Treatment: Preliminary Results

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Time to treatment is critically important in ischemic stroke. We compared the efficacy and cost of teleneurology evaluation during patient transport with that of mobile stroke transport units.

Methods—

Using cellular-connected telemedicine devices, we assessed 89 presumptive stroke patients in ambulances in transit. Paramedics assisted remote teleneurologists in obtaining a simplified history and examination, then coordinating care with the receiving emergency department. We prospectively assessed door-to-needle and last-known-well-to-needle times for all intravenous alteplase–treated stroke patients brought to our emergency departments by emergency medical services’ transport, comparing those with and without in-transit telestroke.

Results—

From January 2015 through March 2016, 111 stroke patients received intravenous alteplase at study emergency departments. Mean door to needle was 13 minutes less with in-transit telestroke (28 versus 41; P=0.02). Although limitations in cellular communication degraded transmission quality, this did not prevent the completion of satisfactory patient evaluations.

Conclusions—

Improvement in time to treat seems comparable with in-transit telestroke and mobile stroke transport units. The low cost/unit makes this approach scalable, potentially providing rapid management of more patients.

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