Sunday, September 23, 2012

News for Stroke Patients

Residents in need of emergency medical care for a stroke may now benefit from a Mayo Clinic “telestroke” program available at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center serving Pinal County in Arizona. Today, Mayo clinic serves as the hub in a network of ten other spoke centers all but one in Arizona. Casa Grande will become the 11th hospital to be part of the telestroke service from Mayo Clinic.

According to Bart Demaerschalk, MD., Professor of Neurology and Medical Director of Mayo Clinic Telestroke, “At least 45 percent of Americans live more than 60 minutes away from a primary stroke center.”

A major benefit of the collaboration is that patients with stroke symptoms can often be administered clot-busting medications within the narrow window of time necessary to minimize permanent injury to the brain.

In providing telestroke care, a telestroke robot located in a rural hospital allows a stroke patient to be evaluated in real-time by a neurology specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. The Mayo clinic stroke neurologist whose face appears on the screen of the portable self-propelled robot consults with emergency room physicians at the rural site and then evaluates the patient.

Patients showing signs of stroke can be examined by the neurologist who may use a computer, smart phone technology, portable tablets, or laptops. In addition to assessing the patient, the neurologist can view scans of the patient’s brain to detect possible damage from a hemorrhage or blocked artery.

To date, more than 1,000 emergency consultations for stroke between the Mayo Clinic stroke neurologist and physicians at the spoke centers has taken place which has resulted in significant reductions in terms of costs to use ground and air ambulance to transfer patients to other medical centers.

In other news related to helping stroke patients, the State of Wisconsin, the American Heart Association, and the American Stroke Association announced a new $1 million federally funded statewide initiative to improve survival and decrease disability from stroke.

Wisconsin is one of 11 states to receive the funding over the next three years to participate in the Paul Coverdell Program, a model shown to improve Emergency Medical Services (EMS) response and hospital-based treatment for individuals experiencing acute stroke. This is the first time that the state has been selected to participate in the registry and is going to help stroke centers compare the quality of their stroke care relative to national and regional benchmarks.

In addition, to the State Department of Health Services and the associations, the collaboration will include the Wisconsin Stroke Committee, a multi-disciplinary group of neurologists, emergency physicians, nurses, professional associations, DHS Emergency Medical Services, and healthcare quality improvement organizations. These organizations will collaborate on recommending a statewide stroke system of care and share the project’s results statewide.

The program will work with 20 hospitals certified as Primary Stroke Centers and EMS providers that service state areas. Stroke teams will use the American Stroke Association’s “Get with the Guidelines-Stroke” online tracking tool to monitor their performance.

EMS providers will improve their procedures based on data analysis in the “Wisconsin Ambulance Run Data System”. All of the collaborators will assist with quality improvement plans and coordinate educational events to help stroke and EMS teams share progress and best practices.