How Telestroke Technology is Saving Lives (and Brains): Part 1 of 2

What is Telestroke Technology?

Since the turn of the millennium, the United States has experienced a continuing surge in the number of stroke victims seen in hospitals across the country. According to a study released in 2015 by the American Heart Association, roughly 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke annually and an estimated 6.6 million Americans age 20 or older had experienced a stroke by 2012. In 2011 alone, strokes accounted for 1 in every 20 deaths in the US (a 35.1% increase from 2001), and on average, a death from stroke occurred roughly every 4 minutes. The study also predicts that, by 2030, an additional 3.4 million Americans age 18 or older will have experienced a stroke (a 20.5% increase from 2012).

As one would expect, this continued rise in stroke cases has created a growing need among neurologists, hospitals, etc.—for more efficient and speedy care methods for both new and recurrent stroke patients. Rising to meet this need, healthcare tech firms such as Avizia are creating new and developing “Telestroke” technologies to assist healthcare providers in their increasingly frequent battles to save the lives (and brains) of their patients.

Telestroke in Emergency DepartmentWhat is Telestroke Technology?

Telestroke technology (sometimes called “telestroke services” or “telestroke solutions”) refers to a specific type of tools and/or solutions—both hardware and software—that provide neurologists with the ability to perform immediate, real-time, and/or remote diagnosis and treatment to a stroke victim.  While this sort of technology is considered a part of the broader telemedicine spectrum, it focuses specifically on speeding up the delivery of care to stroke patients. And, when it comes to strokes, every moment matters.

Any stroke (whether ischemic, hemorrhagic, or TIA) causes immediate damage to the human brain. Every minute the patient goes without treatment, the odds of his or her recovery (and, in some cases, even survival) steadily worsen. Therefore, it is crucial that a neurologist begins treating a stroke victim as soon as possible.

In the days before telestroke, when a patient arrived at the hospital, the on-call neurologist had to be contacted and then had to physically travel to the hospital before treatment could begin. This, obviously, took precious time… time in which the patient was not able to receive a potentially lifesaving tPA or PLAT treatment.

In today’s world, however, the advancement of the internet, high resolution imaging, and digital communications has made it possible for telestroke technologies to vastly improve the speed of care. In fact, according to information from Kaiser-Permanente, they experienced a 73 percent increase in use of tPA/PLAT for patients with acute ischemic stroke after they implemented use of telestroke technology in their facilities.

In Part 2 of this blog, we will discuss the basics of telestroke programs as well as examine some of the game-changing tools and solutions that are helping to saves the lives and brains of today’s stroke victims.

Interesting in learning more? Check out this video recording of our Advancements in Telestroke webinar with Dr. Lee Schwamm, the Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Executive Vice Chairman of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Avizia was acquired by American Well in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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