University of Wisconsin Telestroke Network
The UW Health neurology program in Madison, Wisconsin spearheads the University of Wisconsin Telestroke Network, which offers consultation services for regional hospitals to enhance care for patients who have experienced a stroke.
What is telestroke?
Telestroke is a technology that allows UW Health stroke neurologists located in Madison to assist regional hospitals in the diagnosis of patients who arrive at the regional hospital emergency department with a suspected stroke, as well as provide support in deciding on the best treatment options for the patient.
In the emergency department exam room, there is a video camera system, microphone and computer that allow UW Health stroke neurologists to view the patient and communicate with regional physicians. The patient and family are also able to see and hear the UW Health stroke physician through the video link.
How does telestroke work?
Telestroke uses technology to make the most of the expertise of UW Health neurologists who specialize in the care of patients who have experienced a stroke.
With the aid of the computer-video system, the UW Health stroke neurologist is able to directly interview the patient and/or family members, perform a neurological examination including the complete National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale and directly view the computed tomography (CT) scan to evaluate for intracranial hemorrhage or conditions that may mimic stroke in clinical presentation.
The telestroke neurologist then communicates a treatment recommendation directly to the emergency department doctors and nurses working with the patient in the emergency room to provide the best possible care.
How does telestroke affect care?
Telestroke supports the expertise of emergency department doctors by providing immediate assistance in situations when a stroke is suspected. It also provides an extra level of stroke-specific knowledge that enhances patient safety and facilitates treatments that lead to better outcomes.
How is private health information protected?
Several security measures ensure patient health information is kept confidential. No recordings are made from the camera or microphone. The telestroke consultation occurs over the Internet and is scrambled, or encrypted, so that it is only accessible to physicians with authorized access. The consultation report by the telestroke physician is kept in the medical record at the hospital where the patient presents in the emergency room.
Wisconsin Public Television profiled the telestroke program. The video below includes interviews with patients who have been cared for via telestroke and footage of the patient/physician interaction.