Stroke is Australia’s second largest cause of death and greatest cause of adult disability. The consequences of stroke are devastating with approximately 40% of people dying within 12 months, and about 50% of survivors dependent on others for assistance with everyday living. For a patient who has had a stroke, every minute counts. Research shows that treatment with a clot busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) within 4.5 hours of symptom improves a patient’s chance of a good recovery. Hence, rapid evaluation and treatment is critical.
Many rural and regional hospitals do not have a neurologist (stroke specialist) on site or lack around-the-clock access to stroke expertise. Through telemedicine, a neurologist is only a phone call away to provide assistance to local hospital staff in the assessment and management of patients presenting with stroke symptoms. This enables treatment to be provided locally reducing the need for travel to another hospital and helps also build capacity at the local hospital.
The potential benefits of telemedicine include:
– Access to specialist neurologist opinion and advice 24/7
– Supports decision-making at regional hospital
– Better outcomes for stroke survivors – Faster treatment improves recovery
– Reduced inequality in access to treatments such as thrombolysis
– Treatment may be provided locally reducing the need for travel to another hospital