UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas has launched a telemedicine program that will extend immediate access to UT Southwestern’s stroke care center during crucial time periods.
Partner hospitals—most of which are outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area—can now consult in real time with physicians from UT Southwestern’s Robert D. Rogers Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center during times of greatest need, when treatment is needed for a patient of an ischemic stroke, or clot in one of the brain’s blood vessels. UT Southwestern has six full-time neurointensivists—neurologists with an advanced degree in intensive care for vascular brain injuries such as strokes and aneurysms.
Through the program, UT Southwestern physicians use iPads to provide 24/7, one-on-one audiovisual consultations to the medical staff and stroke patients in the emergency rooms at partner hospitals. Patients’ MRI and CT imaging results are securely shared via specialized cloud technology, and if necessary, patients can be transferred to the nearest Primary Stroke Center, where they have access to high-level, comprehensive medical care for strokes.
“In stroke care, time is so critical. With the launch of the UT Southwestern telestroke network, our neurology team can provide expert evaluations and treatment decisions for patients located hundreds of miles away, often within minutes,” Mark Goldberg, M.D., chair of neurology and neurotherapeutics, said in a statement.
UT Southwestern’s telestroke remote partners include Good Shepherd Medical Center locations in Kilgore, Marshall, and Linden. While the majority of partner hospitals are located in rural areas, local hospitals in need of emergency access to vascular neurologists, such as Texas General Hospital in Grand Prairie, also have become partners.
There have been various other efforts made around the country recently regarding telestroke initiatives. In rural Virginia, the Charlottesville, Va.-based University of Virginia Health System has begun a pilot that will equip local ambulances with a mobile telemedicine kit, aimed to give stroke neurologists at UVA Health System the ability to diagnose patients before they reach the hospital. Additionally, 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.
What’s more, recent research has 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.