Abstract 2197: Telestroke: Optimizing Access to Emergency Interventions in Acute Stroke Care
Background and Issues: The burden of stroke in North Carolina is one of the highest in the nation (approximately 28,000 stroke hospitalizations from 2003-2007). The number and high costs of stroke have made it incumbent to improve the numbers of patients receiving effective treatment. There are two major barriers for treatment of acute stroke: time and access. The utilization of telestroke in community hospitals aids in decreasing these barriers by providing immediate access to a stroke neurologist. In order for telestroke to be successful, awareness and education regarding acute stroke care must be provided for health care providers as well as the communities. Thus, the development of a telestroke system requires nursing and medical expertise. The Primary Stroke Center Team at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. implemented a telestroke network system (Intouch's Health's RP-7 Robotic system) in January of 2010 to provide 24/7 access to the medical center's acute stroke experts and the latest advancements in stroke interventions. There are eight hospitals in the network at the present time.
Methods: Our team identified that many of the network hospital's staff are not experienced in taking care of a stroke patient and that a “roadmap” is useful to guide them in these steps.The stroke nurse specialist developed a quality improvement plan for the network hospitals which included: an evidence-based algorithm for patient care; stroke education, in particular, neurological assessment and tPA administration classes for the ED staff; quarterly meetings to provide outcome and feedback data with each network hospital; stroke awareness events for the community. Mock telestroke consults were also performed prior to “going live” with telestroke for each of the network hospitals. Of utmost importance is the early involvement and education of the EMS system in the respective county of the network hospital. The buy-in of EMS was found to be a key component in the success of the network. Finally, attention to customized quality improvement efforts for each of the facilities are required to accomplish integration into the telestroke network.
Results: The data has been analyzed, and thus far, a 24% rate of tPA administration has been seen with our network hospitals (an increase from the 3.6% national average). Comparisons between each of the eight network hospitals' rates of administration of tPA prior to and after joining the network show a trend of increase (10%-40%). The effectiveness of the algorithm has also been explored by analysis of feedback and initial results have shown a positive impact.
Conclusion: A combination of improving access to stroke neurologists in conjunction with a focus on improving the level of care via evidenced based stroke care teaching and implementation of algorithms at a network hospital is required for implementing and building a successful telestroke network.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.