Telestroke networks using the telemedicine platform from the Alpharetta, Ga.-based REACH Health have a higher rate of administering a clot-dissolving drug in stroke patients than the national average, REACH officials say.
Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the clot-dissolving drug, can be used to treat many patients suffering from the most common form of stroke, known as acute ischemic stroke. While the national average administration rate for tPA is reported to be under 10 percent, telestroke networks using the REACH Access telemedicine platform have achieved an average tPA administration rate of nearly 35 percent, based on industry standard clinical performance measures.
Ischemic stroke occurs when a clot obstructs an artery that supplies blood to the brain. When tPA is administered, stroke patients can experience profoundly improved outcomes, such as a better quality of life, lower rates of disability and improved prospects for rehabilitation. But making a correct diagnosis is critical, as tPA typically must be administered within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms but should not be administered to patients at risk for cerebral hemorrhage.
The REACH Access platform aims to enable emergency department physicians to conduct joint examinations with experienced neurologists, delivering the critical patient information and clinical images needed by neurologists to make the correct tPA recommendation. REACH Access also captures data, including time spent in different phases of a stroke consult and overall door-to-needle time.
REACH has seen results of its telestroke platform in both Ohio and South Carolina. “When we began to establish our telestroke network, South Carolina was facing a cruel reality in stroke care: if a stroke patient was taken to a rural hospital that could not rapidly assess and treat the patient with tPA, that patient was very unlikely to receive the drug due to the length of time required for transfer to a stroke center,” Dr. Robert Adams, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and director, South Carolina stroke network and REACH MUSC, said in a statement. “Today, our telestroke network based on REACH Access has grown to include 15 spoke partner hospitals, and we will soon help to ensure that greater than 90 percent of the population of South Carolina is within 60 minutes of expert stroke care."