Telemedicine stroke treatment efforts abound

Telemedicine efforts--especially ones geared toward stroke patients--received a big boost all across the nation last week. New programs are sprouting up from Boston to Oklahoma City, as outlined by both the Central Maine Medical Center and InformationWeek.

Two Northeastern facilities--Central Maine Health Care of Lewiston, Maine, and Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston--are providing telemedicine interventions for stroke patients in the ER. The project is testing whether physicians at the larger Mass General can, using telemedicine, appropriately prescribe stroke-related medications. The idea: Providing clot-busting drugs to stroke patients immediately after onset can save lives, but prescribing them for non-stroking patients can be deadly.

Mass General doctors also will use streaming video to consult and advise on treatments of patients with other neurological symptoms, such as seizures or sudden paralysis, reports the Sun Journal.

Elsewhere around the U.S., 45 facilities have won nearly $35 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Distance Learning and Telemedicine program. One such facility, Integris Health of Oklahoma City, earned nearly $500,000 to purchase a teleconferencing system also aimed at connecting stroke patients with physicians. The program also will provide remote continuing medical education opportunities for physicians, and speech therapy services to patients.

For more information:
- check out this Central Maine Medical Center news item
- read this Sun Journal piece
- check out this InformationWeek article
- here's the full list of grant awards