To overcome a lack of stroke centers and limited access for patients, especially in rural areas, regional telestroke centers are emerging, with more convenient care and improved fiscal outcomes for hospitals. Whether engaged in a statewide network, or among groups of hospitals on a shoestring budget, such relationships are thriving.
But many smaller hospitals are still struggling with the concept of that delivery of care and are uncertain whether to embark on such partnerships, says Alan Pitt, MD, attending physician in radiology at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center/CHW in Phoenix. He also is clinical informaticist for St. Joseph’s.
“I’m always looking at lowering the barrier to partnerships,” says Pitt. A rural access provider is “usually a relatively small shop, and he probably doesn’t have the deepest IT resources. And he’s listening to you talking about partnership and the first thing he does when he hears telehealth [is to think]: big clunky stuff that he’s going to be responsible for.”
Hospitals seeking to improve patient care in telestroke programs need to build the business relationship and eliminate the technology barrier.
“Ultimately,” Pitt says, “it’s less about technology and more about the business relationships.”
This issue was highlighted at a May 18 HealthLeaders Media Rounds event, “Neurological Service Line Growth: Telestroke and Brain Tumor Innovations,” held at the Barrow Neurological Center and featuring its leaders as well as those from St. John Providence Health System in Warren, MI, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston.