At Memorial we're using TV in a way that's far more dramatic than any show you've seen in prime time. By using a two-way video-conference link to the experts at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, we can get an almost instant diagnosis for stroke patients brought into our Emergency Department.
Memorial is one of a small number of hospitals in Washington engaged in a groundbreaking "stroke telemedicine" program with Seattle- based, Swedish Hospital Neuroscience Institute. People facing a potential or actual acute stroke will now benefit from this recently formed partnership which will bolster stroke support services throughout Central Washington.
There is 24/7, around-the-clock access to nationally recognized stroke team experts via real-time, telemedicine-based technology. With the help of a secure, video-conferencing network, members of the Stroke Team are able to quickly perform 'virtual' bedside neurological evaluations that allow them to examine patients, review brain images and quickly select the best acute stroke treatments in collaboration with our own emergency physicians.
How the TeleStroke Program Works
When a stroke patient arrives in the Emergency Department at Memorial Hospital at any time of the day or night, the Swedish stroke team is available to consult with local physicians on highly complex cases. As indicated, members of the team - which include a stroke team physician in coordination with a specially trained stroke nurse practitioner/physician assistant or registered nurse - can log in on their home or office computers to complete a TeleStroke examination and determine if a patient might qualify for available rescue therapies in an attempt to 'stop' the stroke.
The most common rescue therapy that the stroke team use is an FDA-approved medicine called tissue plasminogen activator or tPA. This medicine can reverse the devastating effects of stroke for some patients if it is administered within three hours of the onset of a stroke. But the key to the successful use of tPA - or other clot-busting thrombolytic drugs - lies in rapid and correct diagnosis because as every minute passes, more brain cells die if the blood clot causing the stroke is not destroyed ('Time is Brain'). TeleStroke consultation also ensures that high quality, in-hospital and post-acute interventions are in place to prevent recurrent stroke and future disability.