Study: Telemedicine works well for stroke

Telemedicine boosters got new ammunition this week, when a study came out suggesting that remote exams of stroke patients performed via a videoconferencing hookup can work as well as a bedside consult.

The study, which appeared in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, could allow doctors to treat a transient ischemic attack as efficiently as a stroke, sometimes saving patients from ever stroking out in the first place. To accomplish this, patients with TIA must be given time-sensitive treatments like tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) quickly if they're candidates for the drug.

In theory, it takes a neurologist to make the call as to whether patients will get tPA. But with an average of only four neurologists per 100,000 people in the United States, and not all of them specializing in strokes, many patients don't have easy access to their care. However, teleradiology and telestroke treatment can expand their reach dramatically.

To help reap the benefits of this technology, experts suggest, health officials should develop a mechanism for credentialing telestroke providers and uniform telemedicine licensure by state medical boards. They also recommend increasing Medicare reimbursement for telestroke treatment.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Healthcare IT News piece

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