Tablet-based stroke assessments as reliable as in-person efforts

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Using tablets for telestroke is proving to be reliable for enabling National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale assessments to be conducted in remote exams, according to researchers.

A new study published in Neurology reveals that the use of tablets for conducting NIHSS assessments was essentially equivalent performing such assessments at the bedside. The study included pilots in central Virginia and the San Francisco Bay area with 27 ambulance runs at both sites.

“Utilizing a low-cost, tablet-based platform and commercial cellular networks, we can reliably perform prehospital neurologic assessments in both rural and urban settings,” the authors of the Neurology study conclude.

The tablet system developed is bidirectional videoconferencing and uses 4G LTE broadband. It puts ambulatory medical teams in real-time communication with a neurologist during the stroke assessment.

Such new stroke assessment tools are being embraced, as there is a need for innovative prehospital stroke care, the authors say.

“Given recent evidence supporting endovascular therapy, in addition to thrombolysis for select stroke patients, there is an even greater need for timely prehospital diagnosis and triage based on stroke severity,” the researchers say.

Not only do new mHealth tools provide faster and just as reliable care as standard systems, they’re often cheaper and low cost, which is a benefit for providers, payers and patients.

A Wall Street Journal report last year noted how apps, text messages and other digital tools can stem cardiac illness recurrence, citing telemedicine as one of the most effective tools.

The study's authors note that further research is needed to establish reliability and validity of prehospital mobile assessment of patients with acute neurologic symptoms.

“Having documented more than 50 test runs in our investigations thus far, we have learned that the portability and adaptability of our apparatus is essential to successful implementation in varying prehospital settings,” they say.

For more information:
- read the study at Neurology

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