Mayo Clinic: Smartphones can power image sharing in telestroke programs

Results from a recent study published in the American Heart Association's Stroke journal indicate that smartphones are an effective mobile device for running teleradiology applications. According to a Mayo Clinic announcement, the study is the first to successfully incorporate smartphone teleradiology applications into a real-world hub and spoke telestroke network.

The objective of the study, which was funded by the Arizona Department of Health Services, was to assess the level of agreement of brain CT scan interpretation in a telestroke network between hub vascular neurologists using Calgary Scientific's ResolutionMD mobile application on smartphones, spoke radiologists using a Picture Archiving and Communications System, and independent telestroke adjudicators using a desktop viewer.

Smartphones running ResolutionMD provided vascular neurologists with access to radiological images of patients with stroke from remote sites for the purpose of telemedicine evaluations. Fifty-three patients with stroke at the spoke hospital consented to receive a telemedicine consultation and participate in a registry.   

The scans were reviewed by radiologists at Arizona's Yuma Regional Medical Center and a separate adjudication panel of stroke neurologists to determine the level of agreement between these traditional interpretation routes and new images and scans on smartphones interpreted by telestroke doctors. The study demonstrated "excellent agreement" (92 to 100 percent) over clinically important radiological features among the reviewers of the CT scans.

"Smartphones are ubiquitous, they are everywhere," Bart Demaerschalk, M.D., professor of neurology, and medical director of Mayo Clinic Telestroke, said in a video explaining the study. "If we can transmit health information securely and simultaneously use the video conferencing capabilities for clinical assessments, we can have telemedicine anywhere, which is essential in a state like Arizona where more than 40 percent of the population doesn't have access to immediate neurologic care."

The Mayo Clinic claims to be the first medical center in Arizona to do pioneering clinical research to study telemedicine for patients with stroke in rural areas. More than 1,000 emergency consultations for stroke patients have taken place between Mayo Clinic neurologists and physicians at 12 spoke centers.

The potential benefit is that when an emergency room at a rural hospital is able to quickly transmit a CT scan of a patient's head to a neurologist in an urban hospital, taking minutes rather than hours, permanent stroke damage can be averted by administering preventative medicine in a timely fashion.

To learn more:
- see the study
- read the Mayo Clinic announcement
- watch the video