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Telemedicine leads to better stroke treatment decisions
Date:8/2/2008

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center say that their first-of-its-kind study of a telemedicine program which transports stroke specialists via computer desktop or even laptop to the patients bedside, using highly sophisticated video, audio and Internet technology, could have an immediate and profound impact on the treatment of stroke patients throughout the world.

Brett C. Meyer, M.D., principal investigator of the STRokE DOC trial and Co- Director of the UC San Diego Medical Center Stroke Center, and colleagues investigated the use of a site-independent telemedicine system when used to provide remote consultation leading to treatment decisions about stroke patients. The study was designed to determine if the so-called STRokE DOC technology enabled physicians to make good treatment decisions, and better decisions than telephone consultations, when evaluating stroke patients across distant sites.

The results of 222 patient cases showed that telemedicine evaluation led to better decision-making than telephone consultations in the care of those patients. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will be published online August 2 in Lancet Neurology, ahead of print.

Rapid decision-making about treatment is critical in stroke patients, who can benefit greatly from appropriate treatment if it is administered within a narrow window of time. This can be hampered when patients are being evaluated in hospitals in rural or underserved areas without a dedicated stroke team, or located too far away from practitioners with such expertise to rapidly treat a stroke patient. One-third of the U.S. population lives in such a rural area.

STRokE DOC (Stroke Team Remote Evaluation using a Digital Observation Camera) connects stroke experts located at a hub site to the patient at a remote but connected spoke site via the Internet. The audio/video teleconsultation system allows the stroke expert real-time visu
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Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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