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10 Oct 2012

Mayo Clinic Delivers Solutions for Stroke Patients

Community, Healthcare, Technology, Telemedicine No Comments

When a stroke occurs, every minute counts. It is estimated that almost half of Americans live more than an hour away from a primary stroke center. As the first medical center in Arizona to study telemedicine as a means of serving stroke patients in non-urban settings, Mayo Clinic’s telestroke service aims to bridge that gap – saving time, money, & ultimately lives.
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About Telestroke Care

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Mayo Clinic began its stroke telemedicine program in 2005. Through telestroke computers located in rural hospitals, stroke patients can be seen in real time by a neurology specialist at Mayo Clinic located in Phoenix. The Mayo stroke neurologist consults via computer screen with emergency room physicians at the rural sites to then evaluate the patient. Patients showing signs of stroke can be examined by the neurologist via computer, smart phone technology, portable tablets or laptops. In addition to assessment of the patient, the neurologist can view scans of the patient’s brain to detect possible damage from a hemorrhage or blocked artery.
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Officials say Mayo Clinic was the first medical center in Arizona to conduct clinical research to study telemedicine as a means of serving stroke patients in non-urban settings and today serves as the hub in a network of 11 other centers, all but one located in Arizona. Tuba City Regional Health Care – located in north central Arizona where 92 percent of the residents belong to the Navajo and Hopi tribes – will become the 12th hospital to be part of the telestroke service from Mayo Clinic, with services starting as early as next month.
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The recent extension of Mayo Clinic’s telestroke program to the residents of the largest Navajo Nation city can now have immediate high-tech, state of the art stroke care, notes Joseph Engelken, CEO of Tuba City Regional Health Care. The Mayo Clinic Telestroke Network also includes Arizona hospitals in Kingman, Flagstaff, Parker, Cottonwood, Show Low, Globe, Yuma, Bisbee, Casa Grande and Phoenix and a hospital in St. Joseph, Mo.
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Benefits of Telestroke

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When telestroke was created in 2005, research revealed that 40 percent of Arizona residents lived outside an area with immediate stroke expertise. With such a narrow timeframe required to produce optimal results for treatment, not having proximate access to primary stroke centers can prove devastating. Telestroke has benefited stroke patients by providing urgent virtual care, administering necessary medications, improving patient comfort, reducing cost of medical or ambulatory transfer, and aiding in the overall quality of life during a patient’s recovery.
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Urgent and immediate virtual care can be provided to patients with emergency physicians at the remote facility calling the telestroke hotline, being instantly connected with Mayo Clinic’s stroke experts. Collaboration between stroke neurologists and physicians at the remote sites has resulted in 96 percent accuracy in diagnosing stroke, notes Bart Demaerschalk, MD, professor of neurology and medical director of Mayo Clinic Telestroke.
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Officials say another major benefit of the collaboration is that patients with stroke symptoms who meet the criteria can often be administered clot-busting medications within the narrow window of time necessary to minimize permanent injury to the brain.
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In addition to accurate diagnoses, experts say the telestroke program improves patient comfort, as they no longer have to venture far to see a doctor.
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To date, more than 1,000 emergency consultations for stroke between Mayo Clinic stroke neurologists and physicians at the spoke centers have taken place. Such comprehensive evaluation techniques, leading to appropriate life-saving treatment for stroke, have resulted in significant cost reductions in terms of ground and air ambulance transfer of the patient to another medical center.
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“Telestroke will enhance the quality of care we provide to our loved ones, by providing them with access to specialists without having to leave their family or home,” said Joette Walters, Clinical Education Department Manager who oversees the telemedicine program at Tuba City Regional Health Care. “Stroke can be a devastating and life-altering diagnosis, where optimal treatment is contingent on a narrow timeframe, by providing this new service we have the potential to improve quality of life for our loved ones.”
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Demaerschalk explains that telestroke technology is not intended to replace face-to-face communication with patients. But he says their research strongly suggests that the technology can enhance evaluation and treatment for patients in rural areas, as well as peer-to-peer collaboration among physicians.
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The above content comes from the recent article “Mayo Clinic Extends Telemedicine to Navajo Nation” by Associate Editor Erin McCann of www.healthcareitnews.com. For more information on this article, please visit:
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http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/mayo-clinic-extends-telestroke-navajo-nation

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