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How is Unified Communications Aiding Telestroke Programs?

June 22, 2015 by

Stroke holds the No. 4 spot on the list of leading causes of death in Americans. On average, a new one happens every 40 seconds, with approximately 795,000 people experiencing them annually, according to the American Stroke Association. Not every hospital has the proper tools for caring for patients who have a stroke, which only increases people's risks. When it comes to strokes, timing is everything. Unified communications solutions ensure that stroke patients receive the immediate care they need to make a recovery.

Reaching Remote Neurologists

Telemedicine is making a name for itself in not only the health care industry, but in politics as well. The proposed Telehealth Modernization Act of 2015 would standardize telemedicine and encourage its widespread use. One part of telemedicine is telestroke, which ensures that those who experience strokes receive the urgent care they need.

Smaller, more rural communities may not have specialists that cater to those sorts of conditions, which makes it difficult to treat patients correctly. However, through the use of video conferencing, doctors and nurses in remote hospitals can reach neurologists in larger, regional facilities, Prairie Business explained. Hometown physicians can communicate with specialists to assess and treat strokes as soon as the patient is brought into the hospital. It's crucial that these people receive tissue plasminogen activators, also known as blood-clotting medications, within the first three hours to stop and reverse stroke symptoms. With this technology, the care process is accelerated.

"This is so cool for the patients. It's using technology for the right reason, not because it's some new toy but for tangible benefit," Ken Flowe, chief medical officer at Rice Memorial Hospital, told the source. "Now that we've invested in the equipment, who knows what services we'll be able to provide?"

EHR Sharing Capabilities

While video conferencing may help neurologists see people, it can't solely help them diagnose stroke patients. Doctors need to be able to see medical records in order to determine proper treatments. Other UC solutions that allow for collaboration can ensure that specialists receive the files they need.

Interoperability is key when dealing with the sharing of electronic health records. While patient files are stored within the hospitals software , they can be shared with a secure cloud service. Medical images, such as MRIs and CT scans, are needed along with patient histories to see the extent of people's health risks. By looking at these documents, specialists can determine the best course of action, especially in regards to tPA administration, according to HIT Consultant. Telestroke has improved tPA utilization by 97 percent, which proves to be a success since approximately 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in areas without stroke specialty care.

"Acute stroke care is such a time-sensitive issue, with a small window of treatment and, often, relatively limited access to stroke specialists. Our new telemedicine program addresses all these concerns head-on," Susana Bowling, medical director for neurosciences at Summa Health System, which recently implemented the program, told the source.

UC aids telestroke by allowing neurologists to be available anywhere, anytime. With communication and collaboration tools, stroke patients can receive the care they need almost instantly.

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