Telestroke program looks to robots to boost quality

Telestroke programs already have been proven to be able to improve access and care quality for patients, while also helping to save hospitals money. Now, five hospitals in California plan to use robots to boost such care efforts even further.

The robots will connect the neurosciences team at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank to four other facilities: Providence Tarzana (Calif.) Medical Center, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Hospital, Encino (Calif.) Hospital and Panorama City-based Mission Community Hospitals. According to Providence Saint Joseph, the systems include mapping technology that will enable the doctors in Burbank to direct the robots at other facilities to various patients.

"With medical advances and a limited number of experts, it makes sense for community hospitals to pool resources to best serve their patients," neurologist Margarita Oveian, a member of the Providence Saint Joseph stroke team, said in a statement. "This is especially important in an area like the Valley where we see a significant number of aging members of the baby boom generation."

A study published in December by researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and Georgia Health Sciences University found financial benefits for member hospitals in a network providing telemedicine services for stroke patients. Specifically, discharges at seven "spoke" hospitals in a hub-and-spoke network--the same setup as in California--were worth $100,000 or more at each facility.

Additionally, research published last year in the journal Stroke found that a stroke telerehabilitation program for home-bound patients increased the likelihood that those patients would stick to an exercise regimen and improved their ability to complete tasks such as preparing meals and bathing.

To learn more:
- here's the Providence Saint Joseph announcement

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