AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog

Acute Stroke Intervention via Telemedicine Saves Lives and Money

Cutting edge technology is, in part, the basis for touting the healthcare system of the United States as the best worldwide. Technology is also derided as a factor in rising healthcare costs.  Efforts to limit access to, or redistribute the cost of, healthcare have polarized the debate.  Recent research published in the journal Neurology demonstrates that the short-term cost of technology can be outweighed by long-term healthcare savings.

Stroke patients in rural communities stand to gain significantly from more aggressive implementation of technology.  Many people at highest risk of stroke live in underserved, mostly rural, areas of the south known as the “Stroke Belt.” These patients typically live beyond a 30 minute drive to a certified stroke center which significantly increases the risk of dying from stroke.

Telestroke, the evaluation and treatment of acute stroke patients via internet based video-conferencing, is an established method of providing live-saving treatment in areas lacking physicians with the necessary expertise. Patient outcomes following telestroke evaluation is unsurpassed when compared to evaluations done in person. Telestroke implementation has inherent cost beyond that of routine stroke care. However, as the Neurology article points out, improved outcomes limit costs over the lifetime of the patient.

These analyses explored the “hub and spoke” model, in which a patient is transferred to a tertiary hospital (hub) after a telestroke encounter at a local (spoke) hospital. The transfer of a critically ill patient is costly, as well as potentially dangerous. An alternative to hub and spoke is “point of service” telestroke care, in which the patient could remain at their local hospital following neurologic evaluation. This approach, offered by AcuteCare Telemedicine, would be expected to be even more cost-effective. It not only reduces the costs of transfer, but keeps the patient in their community thereby reducing cost to the family and community (e.g. travel, missed work) and reducing the cost of participating in a telestroke network by the local hospital.

Obtain additional insight and information by listening to the podcast.

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