Health care facilities should use high-quality videoconferencing systems connecting expert neurologists for rapid, remote examination and treatment of patients undergoing suspected strokes, says a policy statement from the American Heart Association (AHA).
The statement is meant to spur the stroke care community to overcome barriers limiting the use of such technology—known as telemedicine or telestroke—and to provide optimal treatment to patients having strokes in underserved areas, said Lee H. Schwamm, MD, lead author of the statement and vice chairman of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (Schwamm LH et al. Stroke. doi:10.1161/strokeaha.109.192360 [published online ahead of print May 7, 2009]). “The goal of telemedicine, or any stroke system of care, is to provide the right care to the right patient in the right amount of time—every single time,” Schwamm said. “The advantage of telemedicine is you get a stroke expert at the bedside, whereas in the community, you might get someone who has treated some stroke patients in the past, but for whom it is not an area of expertise.”