The VST program is unique, and the largest of its kind in Australia for stroke. The VST program is a virtual system which links rural and regional Victorian hospitals to a network of metropolitan-based neurologists who can provide treatment advice about patients with acute stroke symptoms. The service involves the regional doctor calling a 1300 number to directly access a neurologist who can then proceed with an audio-visual consultation, review brain imaging and provide treatment advice on patients who present to the Emergency Department within 4.5 hours of stroke symptom onset.
The service is available 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.
The aim of the VST program is to enhance a health services’ stroke service and not replace what is being currently offered locally. Hospitals are responsible for determining when and how the telemedicine service is utilised.
All the neurologists on the VST on-call roster hold specialist registration through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. Each neurologist’s qualifications and experience are carefully reviewed by the various VST governance groups through a credentialing process, which has been modelled on the Victorian Department of Health’s ‘Credentialing and defining the scope of clinical practice for medical practitioners’ policy handbook. All of the neurologists on the VST on-call roster hold appointments at major metropolitan hospitals.