Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have determined that telestroke care is cost-effective , with the use of more clot-busting drugs, more catheter based interventional procedures, and other stroke therapies, ultimately leading to more patients being discharged at home independently.
The Mayo Clinic researchers look at a particular kind of telestroke care, with the healthcare provider acting as a hub that connects with a network of multiple hospitals, or spokes. They determined that when a telestroke system connects a hub with seven spokes it's effective and cost-friendly for the patient.
They made this conclusion by comparing a telestroke network patient to a rurally located patient receiving routine stroke care at a community hospital. Over a lifetime, the patient gained 0.02 quality-adjusted life-years and saved $1,436 in costs. The cost-savings come down reduced use of resources such as inpatient rehabilitation, nursing homes, caregiver time.
"This study shows that a hub-and-spoke telestroke network is not only cost-effective from the societal perspective, but it's cost-saving,” Bart Demaerschalk, M.D., neurologist and direcor of the Mayo Clinic Telestroke Program, and the lead investigator of the telestroke cost effectiveness study, said in a statement. “We can assess medical services, like telemedicine, in terms of the net costs to society for each year of life gained."
In Arizona, Mayo Clinic's Telestroke program serves as the hub of a network of 13 spoke centers. Its conducted more than 4,000 emergency consultations for stroke between Mayo stroke neurologists and physicians at the spoke centers in Arizona since the program began in the state. The Mayo Telestroke program also has hubs in Florida, and Minnesota.
The study was conducted by researchers at Mayo Clinic, Georgia Health Sciences University, Analysis Group and appears in the American Journal of Managed Care. This news from this study will be positive for the team at the Charlottesville, Va.-based University of Virginia Health System, which includes a 604-bed level I trauma center, which has begun to implement a pilot program that will equip local ambulances with a mobile telemedicine kit for the treatment of stroke patients.