The Lebanon, N.H.-based Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system has collaborated with Mayo Clinic to create a telestroke program, offering participating hospitals across New Hampshire and Vermont 24/7 access to specialists.
For someone having a stroke, minutes can make the difference between life and death. Studies have shown that prompt access to a vascular neurologist vastly reduces mortality or the long-term disabling effects of a stroke. Yet, many hospitals, particularly in rural regions, do not have a stroke specialist or are unable to provide around-the-clock stroke coverage.
In telestroke care, specialists at a distance use videoconferencing technology to communicate with the emergency room team, examine the patient, interpret the brain images, confirm the diagnosis, and provide recommendations just as if they were at the bedside. This evaluation determines the most immediate and best treatment plan for that patient. Additionally, research has shown that telestroke programs improve outcomes, reduce patient risks, decrease ambulance transport, shorten hospital stays, and lower costs through more timely and accurate diagnosis.
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock system includes New Hampshire's only Level 1 trauma center and its only air ambulance service, as well as the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, and the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state's only Children's Hospital Association-approved, comprehensive, full-service children's hospital, according to the health system’s officials.
Catholic Medical Center (CMC), in Manchester, N.H. will be the first hospital to take advantage of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Mayo Clinic telestroke program. "We chose to work with Dartmouth-Hitchcock because we are committed to providing a higher standard of care for our patients," Joseph Pepe, M.D., president and CEO of Catholic Medical Center, said in a statement. "We are very proud of the stroke program we have at CMC, and now look forward to bringing the expertise of Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Center for Telehealth to our patients and the community we serve."
Mayo Clinic has been a part of several telemedicine initiatives recently, including a partnership with Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Phoenix to test the feasibility of using a telemedicine robot to assess athletes with suspected concussions during football games, as well as developing a new 24/7 remote monitoring system that aims to improve care and shorten hospital stays for critically ill patients.