University of Cincinnati uses 'device-agnostic' telestroke program to connect docs to ER

Through a telemedicine and image exchange platform, the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center is connecting doctors in the emergency room to stroke physicians at other hospitals.

The health system's telestroke program originally was conducted through a robot-based system, Pam Kimmel, R.N., director of telehealth, told Healthcare Informatics. However, she said that was an expensive option.

Recently UC began using a new, "device-agnostic" program that allows encrypted CT scan images to be easily shared between different locations live video, she said. The platform will also allow the program to be implemented at all of the health system's facilities.

"Over the past year, from our eight rural hospitals, we've had 300 calls, and of them, 100 of them have led to telestroke consults," Kimmel said.

The pilot for the initiative started this past fall; according to Kimmel, they hope to launch more sites in the next couple months.

As for how physicians feel about the project, Anya Sanchez, M.D., enterprise director for special projects, told Healthcare Informatics that they are "very enthusiastic about having the ability to visualize any stroke patients in a consult."

Cleveland Clinic also has been experimenting with telestroke. The provider uses a mobile stroke treatment unit to initiate treatment faster for its patients than those treated in the ED by consulting with specialists via telemedicine.

In addition, Ohio Health Stroke Network is using a "hub-and-spoke" method to reach out to rural areas, FierceHealthIT previously reported. OhioHealth is using the network to connect to smaller hospitals with formal agreements for telemedicine consultation.

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