Telehealth Effective but Slower Than Onsite Stroke Assessments

March 30, 2015 in News

Telehealth interventions for stroke assessment take slightly longer than traditional in-person consultations, but they can be effective for instances when there is no vascular neurologist on site, according to a study published in Telemedicine and e-Health, FierceHealthIT reports (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 3/30).

Study Details

For the study, researchers compared 98 assessments of patients who were evaluated using “robotic telepresence” with 98 patients whose care was overseen by a vascular neurologist at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix between 2009 and 2012.

Participants were selected from a stroke alert database (O’Carroll et al., Telemedicine and e-Health, March 2015).

Findings

According to the study, the average time between stroke alert activation and the initiation of treatment or downgrade was 8.6 minutes longer among patients in the robotic telehealth group compared with those in the standard supervision group.

The average time increased among a subgroup of acute ischemic stroke patients who were treated with intravenous thrombolysis, with the average time between activation and treatment taking 18 minutes longer for the robotic group than for patients in the standard group.

The study found that safety measures were similar between the groups.

Comments

According to the authors, the longer times associated with telehealth interventions could be the result of a learning phase when robotic telehealth was first introduced at the hospital in 2009 (FierceHealthIT, 3/30).

The authors concluded that, when available, standard supervision should be used over robotic telehealth procedures (Telemedicine and e-Health, March 2015). However, they added that the robotic interventions “may be preferable in situations where no stroke specialist is available in-house, especially for middle of the night and weekend staffing of residents, when a nine-minute robot-associated delay is likely better than the delay associated with the supervising physician driving in to the hospital” (FierceHealthIT, 3/30).

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