Building a Telestroke Relationship

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , July 13, 2011
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The St. John Providence Health System initiated a telestroke center that has resulted in improved delivery of care for hospitals and enhanced patient participation, says Rob Fisher, RN, MBA, vice president of the system’s Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence and Van Elslander Neuroscience Center of Excellence.

Telestroke programs are crucial, especially in rural areas “because of a limited access to a number of certified stroke centers,” Fisher says. Using
bedside videoconferencing in telestroke programs, medical teams in hospital emergency centers can consult over the Internet with neuro-specialists in distant cities. The result is improved specialty care and removal of travel or unnecessary patient transport, Fisher says.

A successful telestroke center is based upon “relationship building, having trust to sustain the models,” Fisher says. “It’s a critical factor in that relationship to have transparency,” Fisher adds. “We are all being pushed to show better outcomes around the patient.”

The St. John Providence Health System telemedicine network provides a “neuro on-call” service, which provides rapid access to expert stroke care. The care includes a “virtual spine service,” which includes back care for patients who are evaluated much more quickly than through conventional procedures, according to Fisher. The overall treatment process can be reduced to within three to five days instead of five to 10 weeks.

“It has a huge halo effect,” Fisher adds. Developing a telestroke or telemedicine network program has proven to promote growth in other service lines, he says.

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