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SAVING LIVES, LONG DISTANCE: SERVICE HELPS DOCTORS SAVE STROKE PATIENTS - HUNDREDS OF MILES AWAY

An IU Health White Memorial Hospital Release

—When a stroke suddenly strikes, every second counts and the slightest delay in treatment could increase the chance of permanent disability or death. While this is an important reminder for city-dwelling Hoosiers that live within minutes of hospitals with specialized stroke services, it also points to a critical health issue facing residents living in rural, underserved pockets of the state—some located hours away from such facilities.

In an effort to expand statewide access to specialized stroke services and improve clinical outcomes for stroke patients, Indiana University Health is providing a clinical service using telemedicine to support IU Health White Memorial Hospital.

This service, IU Health Stroke Telemedicine, uses advanced videoconferencing technology to connect stroke specialists in the Indianapolis-area with stroke patients at selected rural community hospitals—some hundreds of miles away.

Dedication to Indiana patients has led IU Health to become Indiana’s first and only certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, the highest designation for stroke care given by The Joint Commission. Fewer than 100 hospitals in the country have earned this distinction, representing the top 2 percent of hospitals nationwide in stroke care.

IU Health has created Indiana’s largest network of stroke treatment facilities. This system of 18 hospitals is ready to assess, treat and manage the effects of stroke across the state. Our system includes the Comprehensive Stroke Center, three Primary Stroke Centers and 12 IU Health Stroke Telemedicine hospitals, including IU Health White Memorial Hospital.

The service’s mobile technology platform—designed specifically for IU Health—uses laptops and smartphones to support the neurologists in performing telemedicine consultations anytime; anywhere.

“Connecting rural providers to a statewide telestroke network is another example of how IU Health is working to collaborate with clinical experts to strengthen local resources,” said Jeff Zeh, president of IU Health White Memorial Hospital. “By integrating our networks’ statewide resources and delivering high-speed stroke expertise, we can reduce disparities in acute stroke care for those living in rural Indiana.”

How the service works

With this service, emergency department staff at IU Health White Memorial hospital dealing with a potential stroke patient can dial one dedicated phone number to reach an on-call IU Health-affiliated neurologist based in the Indianapolis area and connect the patient with the doctor via web camera and phone. Using the telemedicine technology to consult remotely, the neurologist can interact in real-time with the patient and the on-site emergency room doctor, review laboratory and scan results and make observations to determine the most appropriate treatment path.

In time-critical situations such as the onset of a stroke, live and interactive telemedicine consultations like these may help to ensure faster, more effective care for patients—potentially increasing their chances of an excellent recovery. By reducing or eliminating the hours of delay caused by transfers, more patients will be eligible to receive time-critical treatments for stroke.

“With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, but if a patient’s stroke symptoms are recognized and treated fast enough, there’s a good chance our team can help improve their outcome,” said Marc Estes, MD, FACEP, emergency room doctor at IU Health White Memorial.

IU Health Neuroscience is one of the largest neuroscience programs in the country and the only program of its kind in Indiana to rank among the top 25 programs in the nation for neurology and neurosurgery in U.S.News Media and World Report's 2012-2013 edition of “Best Hospitals in America.”

IU Health has been a statewide leader in telemedicine since 2004. 

Go to IU Health White Memorial Newsroom