AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog

Certified Life Saving

For the last several years, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (The Joint Commission) has monitored hospitals’ specific performance measures in treatment of common diseases. In 2011, stroke care joined pneumonia, heart failure, and heart attack on the list of monitored core diseases. Hospitals must demonstrate to the Joint Commission, and to the public, that they are providing good emergency stroke care in order to receive certification as a Primary Stroke Center. For instances of stroke, the Joint Commission monitors if hospitals are administering tPA (the clot busting medication) to eligible stroke patients.

Despite this focus on a high standard of care, large areas of the country lack hospitals who have administered tPA to stroke patients.  Alabama, for example, has only 3 hospitals certified as stroke centers. A lack of certified stroke centers has been shown to correlate with the rate of death from stroke. A primary factor in the failure to meet established standards is the limited number of neurologists available for emergency stroke intervention. The expanded use of telemedicine is a practical solution. Rapid evaluation by a stroke specialist via the internet enables the use of tPA in otherwise underserved areas, leading to better care and outcomes.

Rapid access to quality emergency care underlies the public’s confidence in our healthcare system. With limited numbers of neurologists and vast numbers of needy hospitals, telemedicine makes sense for stroke care.

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