At the first sign of a stroke, the clock starts ticking as blood flow to the brain stops and brain cells die. "Time is brain" means the faster you are treated, the better chance you have of recovering with little or no disability.
CAMC General Hospital's emergency department is now equipped with the latest technology to help stroke patients in the race against time by providing direct, immediate access to a neurologist whenever the neurologist is off-site.
"If someone is having a stroke and I am at another hospital, normally I would need to get in the car and drive over. That can take 15 to 20 minutes, which doesn't sound like a long time, but because time is brain, the quicker we can see someone, the better," said Melanie Ward, MD, neurologist.
Based on that initial video consultation, the neurologist can give care orders to be carried out by the stroke team while the doctor is on the way to see the patient in person.
"Telestroke technology allows us to see someone through the computer quicker than we would be able to [in person]."
By logging into a secure system from their smartphone or tablet, doctors who are off-site can connect to a camera and monitor in General Hospital's emergency department and video conference with hospital staff, which enables them to evaluate the patient, view scans and lab work, and determine the best, and fastest, course of treatment.
"Telemedicine gives us the opportunity to be virtually present, take action, give the appropriate medication in a timely manner and provide the excellent care that patients need," said Samip Borad, MD, neurologist.
Telestroke technology is credited with helping CAMC achieve its fastest door-to-tPA time ever. "Thanks to this technology, we were able to give the tPA in 23 minutes," said Amie Lopez Smith, RN.
CAMC is the only designated primary stroke center in the region. This certification recognizes hospitals that meet certain standards that support better outcomes for stroke care, including a dedicated stroke-focused program, staff of qualified medical professionals, streamlined flow of patient information and quality improvement measures. CAMC provides comprehensive stroke care, from acute stroke treatment in the emergency room to neurointerventional and cardiovascular surgery and rehabilitation following discharge.
"Telestroke has revolutionized stroke care," said neurologist and stroke specialist, Konark Malhotra, MD. "We are lucky to have this technology at CAMC as it further improves our stroke care."